Friday, February 27, 2015

Maxwell

A group of passengers stepped aboard the train, some of them returning from a smoke break while others were boarding for the first time. The inside of the train was decked out in blue, from the seats to the ceilings. A mother with her son walked down the aisle and stopped after coming back to the seats that held their belongings. Her pink coat rested below a pile crumpled up blanket, which housed her housed her son’s iPad and cell phone. As she plopped down in the seat nearest the window, she looked across the aisle and saw someone in worse shape than herself.

Her eyes were dilated and she had looked like that she hadn’t slept in days. The bags under her eyes were heavy enough to be reminiscent of a grocery bag being weighed down by dozens of canned goods. Her son was used to seeing her like this and had learned to accept it as normal behavior. He knew that she only had about fifteen minutes left in her before she succumbed to the drug induced slumber that comforted her most.

“Max, grab your iPad and play some games to pass the time. We’re about three hours from your father,” she mumbled before yawning and eventually curling up beside the window with the baby blue colored polyester blanket that matched her eyes to a tee. Max grabbed the iPad and approached the man that her mother was staring at before she had passed out. His face was riddled with acne scars, presumably from digging at various pimples and zits in his adolescence.  His brown fleece jacket was visibly old and worn out, featuring holes and burn marks throughout the front of it, and he smelled like dumpster sludge. Max’s features were the polar opposite of this gentleman’s. He looked just like his father, devilishly handsome with brown hair that really accented his sea green eyes.

“Are you a crazy man?”

The man repositioned himself in his seat to approach the boy, and just as he was about to speak, heard rumbling coming from the front of the train. An elderly man with a cane and a pork pie hat was damn near barreled over by the conductor and several of the wait staff.  Max quickly jumped out of the way and into the empty seat next to the man who he had dubbed crazy.

“My mom thinks you’re crazy, I think.”

“Oh yeah? And why may that be?”

“I’m not sure,” Max replied, stepping back into the aisle as the commotion had come to a halt at the bathroom. “I’ll be back,” he said, as he jogged down the now clear path between the seats to see what was going on. He had arrived just before the conductor shoulder checked the locked bathroom door, sending it shooting open with a great deal of force. Once he had realized that he was face to face with a corpse that was leaning against the far wall inside the stall, he turned around and vomited on the floor without hesitation. Despite the body being relatively bloodless outside of his nose, it still turned his stomach like nothing ever had before.

Max had never seen a grown man puke on the floor before, let alone a dead body. He wanted to see more, but was grabbed on the shoulder by the crazy man.

“Get away from there, it’s a crime scene.”

Word had spread quickly throughout the train cars about the man who perished in the bathroom. Everyone on board seemed to be horrified, except for Max’s mother, who was still in a drug induced dream land. A stewardess came over the intercom, filling the role of the conductor, and announced that the train would remain stationary for the foreseeable future. A few groans were heard at the revelation, but most of the passengers understood the magnitude of the situation.

Max plopped down in an empty chair at the front of the car and watched people file out one by one to kill the time, so to speak. When the crazy man approached the doorway, Max stood at attention and began to interrogate him.

“Why’d you kill that man? What did he do to you?”

The man looked down at Max with a puzzled look on his face.

“Look kid, I don’t know why you and your mom think I’m crazy or why you think I had anything to do whatever happened in there, but I’d appreciate it if you just left me alone. You’re fucking weird.”

This wasn’t anything new to Max. His friends at school called him weird all the time, so this particular crazy man’s remarks had zero effect on him.

“But I watched you do it, don’t you remember?” Max reached for the ends of his scruffy jacket and tugged at the bottom of it.

“Knock it off, kid!” The man was getting visibly agitated with the boy, and restrained himself by only allowing himself to softly push him out of the way. The man scurried out to smoke a cigarette, watching Max from the outside of the window with every drag that he took. Max got tired of playing with this game with him, so he began to scout each passenger, looking for a motive for each one of them. He had always wanted to be a detective like on the shows that his dad would watch on TV.

He ran over to tell his mom the great news, but she was too deep in her sleep to acknowledge his excitement. He wanted to ask her why she would kill that man and what he had done to her to deserve it, but he quickly reached the conclusion that there were no answers to be had. He marked his mother as the first to be innocent of this crime.

He stood back as the real police stepped on board and began talking to the young clean shaven conductor who puked earlier. Just seeing that man again was enough to make Max chuckle, which drew the attention of one of the detectives. The stocky bearded police veteran slowly approached Max, and knelt down on one knee to look him in the eye, his long, black overcoat grazing the floor.

“My name is Detective Brooks, hello. Did you see anything suspicious, little buddy? Do you know what that word means? Suspicious?”

Max nodded his head yes and continued on, “I know what that word means, sir. My dad always wanted to do what you guys do but told me that he had to put that on hold when my mom had me.”

The detective was stunned by the intellect of this child and asked just how old he was.

“I’m turning eleven this year,” he answered, holding up both of his index fingers to show his age. “I saw that man outside in the ugly brown jacket go in the bathroom just before the dead man did.”

Detective Brooks stood up on his feet once again and walked over to his superior to alert him of the information that Max had just relayed to him. The wrinkled old man accompanied Brooks back over to the child, prompting him to ask the very same questions that were answered in the very same way. The captain turned to his colleague and nodded his head before turning around, grabbing his walkie talkie as he came to the exit.

Brooks put his hand on the child’s back and walked him back to his mother.

“Please don’t wake her up,” Max begged of him. “She’s exhausted from all of the traveling we’ve been doing and this is the first time she’s slept in days.”

The detective was reluctant to agree but eventually responded by telling him that he would let her sleep for now but would eventually have to tell her of how he had helped their investigation. Max sat next to his mom and cuddled up with some of the blanket that she was using. He was trying to hide his interest in what was going on outside of the train but couldn't help himself. He rose up from his seat and stood next to the window, looking on as the detective and the captain questioned other passengers about the crazy man’s potential involvement in this death.

The old man who was almost ransacked earlier kept shaking his head yes to everything that was asked of him, which was a good sign to Max. He smiled and shook his mother awake as they slapped handcuffs on the crazy man, who began shouting and acting belligerent until he got tazed. As he flopped around on the pavement, Max’s mother finally came to. The first thing she saw was the stretcher being wheeled off of the train with a body bag on top of it.

She looked at Max with a look of pure shock, her jaw open wide, “Maxwell Joseph, what the fuck did you do now?”


He smiled back at her and sat back in his seat, swiping away at the iPad, giggling to himself with every touch. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Episode 9


“I’m not doing that,” John returned fire back at Charles that matched the burning in his eyes. Charles stopped dead in his tracks and shot back a look of deep disdain that was thick enough to cut through stainless steel.  Their staring contest was briefly interrupted by the mechanical buzzing sound of the plasma screen being raised back up the ceiling. Charles once again reconnected his eyes to John’s.

“Heh, we had a feeling you might say that, son. Follow me.” Charles walked towards the doors and pushed them open, waiting for John to follow his orders. John shook his head with disgust as he made his way through the open doorway. As he followed him down the hall, Charles swung his head around to address the matter at hand.

“John, you have been given an extraordinary gift and your behavior has been reckless to say the least. Doesn’t it mean anything to you to know that you’ve been chosen? You truly are one of a kind, please don’t be like those that came before you.”

That statement rumbled around John’s thoughts for a few moments as he continued to stroll down the plainly grey painted hallway.

“How can I be one of a kind if there were others before me?”

“You’ve always got a question, don’t you?”

The rhetorical question was treated as such as they eventually reached a red painted door that read, “EMERGENCY STAFF ONLY.” Charles pressed the green button that was installed on the right side of the door and pushed it open after hearing a buzz that allowed him to do so. They both stepped through on even footing, but only John was shocked to see a distraught Jennifer lying against the boiler, being surrounded by masked physicians and nurses.

“What are you doing to her?! Get away from her!”

Charles stepped in front of him and blocked any progress by placing his arms on John’s chest. John took a few steps back and circled the room, breathing heavily and obviously furious.

“If you guys think that you’re going to get me to do whatever it is you want me to do by harming her, you’re fucking wrong!”

As soon as the words left his tongue, every medical assistant dropped what they were doing and left the room at once. Scalpels and torches, among other tools were left behind, resting on a tray. As John approached them, Charles followed suit and stood across from him, watching him inspect the tools that they had used on Jennifer, wincing at each instrument. Charles interjected before the words could even escape John.

“When will you understand that we are helping you? You don’t want to lose her, do you?” John glanced back at him, totally unconvinced of the talk he was receiving. “If she is as important to you as we feel she is, then you are ready now.”

“Ready? Ready for what? You guys… you know, you guys kill me. You sit here and you speak in riddles time and again, leaving more questions than answers, and then you say –“

“In due time, kid.”

“Yes, exactly! This due time crap! I’m tired of it!”

John made his way over to Jennifer and knelt down beside her, doing his best to comfort her. He tried to hug her but she pushed him away. Charles stood over the both of them.

“Come with me, we need to go over some things.”

John looked at Jennifer and she rose to her feet without even acknowledging him.

“What, so you’re mad at me now?!”

John stood up and followed the both of them into another secure room. As they stepped in, all that they had saw was corpses of people who had looked just like them, draped down in morgue sheets from the face down.

“You see, you have been chosen to respect and to fight for what all they have fought for,” he said, spreading his arms to show the vast amount of bodies that lay in front on them all. “It is your obligation and duty to end all of this, and we have put our full trust in you to do so.”

From the far exit, the doors swung open and Cyrus the Cyclops stomped through the facility with bare feet. He stepped in front of Charles and let out a roar that would have shaken a glacier free from any tundra it rested in. Both Charles and John were sent back against the wall from the sheer velocity of the scream. Jennifer knelt down unaffected from anything but the roar.

As Charles rose to his feet, he approached an exit at the far left side of the building. He pushed the doors open, allowing the cold winter breeze inside the bowels of the room.

“All of you are now ready, go forth and defend us like nobody before us.”

They all walked outside and into an uncertain fate, and similar mindsets.  The storm had not let up, and the wind was whipping fiercer than ever before.

Charles approached John and placed a map in his hands before walking back inside, shutting the doors behind him.

John turned to each of his companions.


“Ah, fuck.”

Purple Pearls

It had been two years since her grandmother had passed on, but she was still close to her tender spirit. She could feel her presence throughout her home, especially when she would whip up a nice dinner for nobody but herself. Today was different, though. Today was when everyone gathered at her home to celebrate the loss of old grandma Madeline.

It seemed as if her husband ignored her every attempt to season the sauce or check on the pot roast in the oven. After she would throw in some season all or paprika, her husband would follow and do the exact thing that she had just done.

“You’re gonna ruin it, Steve. You’re throwing in double the amount of everything,” she said to him, as he set the ladle down on the counter next to the sauce pot. She winced at the spot that the deep red sauce left behind and grabbed a sponge that rested on the top of the sink to scrub it clean. As she did so, Steve turned his back to her and sparked up general conversation to entertain the dinner guests.

The house served as a stone reminder of the history of their family and those who had impacted it. Baby pictures of the family that surrounded the time lined the walls and coffee tables that made up the dining room that they currently resided in. Reminiscing and laughter accompanied the aroma in the air that was created with love and passion, making the aura one that even the most sadistic of men would crumble to.

As she put the various ingredients back inside the cabinet where she found them, she peered around the room to take in the joy that was effortlessly consuming everybody else. She felt an odd combination of happiness and sorrow. The happiness was coming from an obvious source, just being here with her extended family once more. Accepting that people move on and grow up to become more focused on their own lives was a tougher pill to swallow when you grew with these people. The sorrow stemmed from her knowing that the only thing that made this special was the rarity of it. She tried her best to take it all in.

There was aunt Phyllis and uncle Charlie sitting across from each other, and ooh, there was grandpa Ed. She wondered how he was holding it together since the passing of his dear wife of fifty-two years. They had dated for seven years before that, and it was obvious that their bond left a gaping hole deep inside of him. Honestly, he had looked like he had lost best friend, well, because he had. Although she knew full well that that kind of love had been long extinct, it didn’t stop her from keeping her hopes up. Okay, she knew it was a long shot. She hadn’t been able to stand the existence of her husband for the past seven months, but that was beside the point.

She could barely wait to see the reaction she’d get once she stepped out of the kitchen, plates of delicious entrees in hand, wearing her grandmother’s pearls that she left to her around her neck and wrist alike. She was saving them for a moment that she could assign meaning to, and today was her most perfect opportunity. Surely nobody would forget the image of her stepping out with these shiny, brilliantly purple pearls. The fact that she resembled her grandmother more than any of her birth parents would add to the moment, she deduced.

Lowering the heat to slightly above simmer, she stepped away from the stove and entered her bedroom. She had almost forgotten that she was already wearing the pearls, keeping them concealed under the sleeves of her shirt and neck of her sweater respectively.  She tried to look in the mirror, but couldn’t bring herself to raise her head up enough from the floor to do so. She wasn’t sure if she was terrified of what would be looking back at her or if she wasn’t as ready for all of this as she had first thought.

One thing that she was sure of was that she’d never been surer about anything in her entire life. Walking out of the bedroom and into the kitchen, she was surprised at what she was unfolding in front of her. There was three candles on the table that was draped with a white tablecloth, one candle at each end, and one in the middle of the table. Her husband had taken it upon herself to serve the meal to the family, and had even assumed the responsibility to say grace.

She stomped her feet and scurried off back into her bedroom where she sat on the bed and cried into her lap, her dirty blonde locks gently grazing her knees. Suddenly she felt a hand on her shoulder and turned her head around slowly so see that nobody was behind her. She knew what she felt, and her gut was telling her that her grandmother felt her in need from the beyond.

As she rose to her feet and wiped her tears, she turned to face herself in the mirror. Mustering up every ounce of courage that resided in her body, she heard the voice of her grandmother as soon as she met the mirror. There was no reflection looking back at her as Madeline asked her one question. Tranquility set in as the words crept through her ears.

“When are you going to accept that you’re dead, sweetie?”


Friday, February 20, 2015

One Day

“Open up the bookcase,” Tiffany demanded.

“No,” Sean shot back at her as they both stood in the freshly painted quarters. “I’m not going to bust open an antique book case just because you feel like something is inside. The damn thing is over a hundred years old.”

“And?”

“And I’m not gonna do it. We’ve been over this how many times?”

Pat looked on shaking his head in half laughter-half disbelief of the bickering that was unfolding in front of him. As he did so, his phone buzzed in his pocket. Feeling the vibration, he looked down at the screen and told them both that his presence was needed elsewhere.

“Thanks for the sandwich, man. I gotta go,” he said, extending his hand for their routine goodbye handshake. “And it was a pleasure meeting you as well, Tiffany.”

“Bye human,” she said, twirling her entire body and marching off to the room that housed the bookcase. Sean hasted his way in front of her, placing each arm against the wall to act as a blockade to prevent any further advancement.

She stopped dead in her tracks and looked at him.

“Tiffany, we’re not going to destroy something that my grandfather held on to his whole life. You think you can just come in here and do whatever you want, meddle with my life?”

She disregarded his comment and maneuvered her way under his extended arms, giggling as she made her way through the doorway. His reaction to her persistence was a frustrated sigh followed by him placing his head in his right hand. His footsteps were a welcome sound to her ears, as it let her know that what she was doing was working.

As he entered the room, he saw Tiffany sitting in the chair, looking out the window. She felt his eyes watching her and slowly turned to meet his eyes from across the room.

“So was your grandfather a writer?”

“What? No. He just read a lot. He believed that words on paper were the only thing that could stand the test of time. I always used to tell him that he was wrong, but it looks like I was.”

“I think you have to open it up, at least the hollow spot. I think he left something behind for you. Were you meant to have this? Like, was this left specifically for you, by name?”

He leaned back against the pastel white doorway, rubbing an itch on his nose before responding to her question. He didn’t know whether he was doing a good enough job of masking his existential crisis, and her very being was making his think about it even more.

“Yeah, he left it to me. Him and my sister had a bit of falling out so everything is kinda left to me by default.”

Her eyes lit up at the prospect of there being other heirlooms to explore. He saw the way she glowed once the words left her lips and immediately shot her down.

“No, no, no. Ok, look. If I open this thing up, that’s it. No more cracking open other stuff he left for me, but under one condition.”

She nodded her head in approval.

“If there’s nothing inside, you leave her and never come back. Not even to visit Martha across the street. Deal?”

“But she’s been my frie—“

He cut her off before she could even finish her sentence.

“No. I don’t care. Never again. If you’re that confident there’s something inside, you’d jump at this.”

“Do I get half?”

Shaking his head in disbelief at just how difficult she could be, he eventually agreed that whatever was inside, he’d split with her.

“Fine, you can get half.”

Tiffany rose up from her chair with a smile that would have lit up the room had it been later than 3 PM.

“And if I’m right do we get to look at more stuff?”

He left the room leaving her question hanging in the air. Tiffany stayed behind and admired the bookcase that intimidated her, staring it down as it remained a whole one last time. She could hear Sean digging through tools in another room for a few moments before again hearing his footsteps accompany him down the corridor.

Sean entered the room with a hatchet and a power saw.

“Which one are you going to use?”

“I’m not using anything. You are.”

“Me? Really?!”

Her reaction was not as he anticipated. He had hoped that presenting her with two less than ideal options would deter her from going through with it. He was shocked that she had picked the hatchet.

“Going with the hatchet huh?”

She looked back at him and confirmed his assertion.

“So.. right in here? Just swing it?”

“That’s usually how a hatchet works,” he sarcastically shot back at her.

She raised the hatchet over her head and swung it down against the back of the book case, causing pieces of wood to shoot across every direction of the room.

“Impressive,” Sean told her, this time with no sarcasm lightly veiled behind his words.

She smiled at him as she bent down to remove the pieces of wood that had imploded and saw a folded up piece of paper resting inside. It was clearly a dated note, as it showed signs of aging by featuring various spots of mildew around the edges. She was hesitant to unfold it, instead gazing at him to see if he would like to be the first one to read it.

“Go ahead,” he said.

She gently unfolded the note and read it to herself.

“One day you will find yourself living in a world without me,
And on that day, I want you to smile,
Because you will have been blessed by the company of an angel,
But you must be careful to not hold on to her too tightly,
For angels are meant to fly away”

She folded it back up and handed it to Sean.

“This is for you,” she told him as she took a few steps back to watch him read it. Once she noticed that he was done reading the contents,  she stood by his side.


“But I’m not an angel, I’m a seahorse,” she said as she grabbed the note and tore it in half, placing it in her pocket.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Episode 8

Episode 8
JOURNEY
Written by Andy Mascola

Jennifer stepped forward. “I will go first,” she said.

John looked at Jennifer in disbelief, then over to Charles. “You can’t put her under that spotlight. Those wings are like tissue paper. She’ll be incinerated.”

“Step onto the treadmill, Jennifer,” Charles commanded as he stepped aside.

On the plasma screen Mrs. Margot looked on in silence.

Jennifer stepped up onto the treadmill. Two of the guards came and cuffed her wrists with metal clamps to the support bars on either side of the machine.

John stepped forward. A third guard grabbed him by the arm, holding him back. John’s tail instinctively swatted the guard’s hand away hard causing the guard to cry out in pain. John again stepped forward. Cyrus stepped in front of him and growled, gritting his teeth.

“Whose side are you on, big fella?” John asked.

Cyrus grunted and punched John in the chest with a big meaty fist, knocking him off his feet. John flew backward. His head hit the tiled floor hard. Shaking the Cyclops’ blow off and rubbing the back of his head, John carefully got back on his feet and watched as the guards started the treadmill from a bank of computers on the opposite side of a glass enclosed area.

Charles walked slowly around the treadmill, observing Jennifer as it began to roll faster and faster. Jennifer was forced to keep up with the pace of the rapidly moving conveyer belt beneath her. 
Charles looked up at the spotlight above the winged girl’s head and then nodded to the guards behind the glass.

The spotlight hummed and quickly turned from a soft yellow light to orange, and then changed again from orange to red. From where John stood he could feel the heat coming off the lamps above the treadmill even though it was more than fifteen feet in front of him.

Jennifer cried out in pain. Her wings instinctively spread, shading her body from the punishing synthetic rays that were increasing in temperature by the minute. The treadmill got increasingly faster and louder as Jennifer’s feet beat down hard. It was torturous to watch. John couldn’t imagine what it was like for anyone to endure this “training”.

The heat was so high now that John began to sweat. Jennifer’s wings began to dry and shrink before his eyes. Jennifer was crying and there was smoke coming from her spread wings.

“Stop this!” John yelled. “You’re destroying her!”

The Cyclops’ back was to John. He quickly seized the opportunity to act. John ran across the room and into the enclosed area where the guards stood. Between the sound of the treadmill and the hum of the spotlight the men didn’t hear him coming. John punched the guard closest to him in the side of the face, and then pushed him as hard as he could with both hands into the guard next to him, knocking both men to the floor.

John looked at the myriad of switches and buttons confusedly. He grabbed a lever and pulled it down. The treadmill slowed. Charles took notice.

“Cyrus!” Charles yelled over the hum of the spotlight. The Cyclops’ one eye looked in the direction Charles was pointing.

The giant ran into the control booth and with one hand grabbed John behind the neck and dragged him out of the control booth area. The two guards got to their feet and repositioned themselves behind the controls.

John’s hands grabbed at Cyrus’ arm and fingers. The Cyclops held John away from his body and waited for his next instruction from Charles. John’s tail shot up and whacked the giant one eyed man hard in the crotch.

Cyrus groaned and let John go, grabbing at his genitals with both hands and collapsing to his knees. 
John rubbed at the back of his neck.

“Stop the training!” Charles shouted to the guards.

The room became quiet and dark as the spotlight above the treadmill went off completely. The air was tinged with a smell like burned hair. It was Jennifer’s wings. The fluorescent lights in the room went on.

The girl was panting and crying now having fallen to her knees. Her hands were still secured to the bars on either side of her. Her wings were shriveled and appeared much smaller. Smoke floated up from her back.

“Behold!” Mrs. Margot’s voice boomed from the plasma screen.

John’s eyes widened as he watched Jennifer’s shriveled wings shed their dried burned feathers to make room for fresh new feathers.

“Bring her to me,” Charles said to the guards as he stepped between Cyrus and John.

The guards undid the clamps around Jennifer’s wrists and lifted her to her feet. She had stopped crying and panting. The guards gently walked the girl off the treadmill and over to where Charles stood.

Charles made a motion with his finger in the air. The guards turned the winged girl around. The men watched as Jennifer’s body naturally shed the last of the blackened and singed feathers, replacing them with beautiful soft white feathers before their eyes.


“You’re next, monkey boy,” Charles said to John.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Frayed

She peered out the window and looked as far as she could, deep into the windy winter storm that lay in front of her. As the snow danced and twirled in front of her baby blue eyes, she saw a deer wander through the white openness of her thirty-two acre backyard, complete with a massive oak tree and wire fence surrounding it. The deer seemed to be confused as it looked in all four directions and back again, contemplating its next move. As she watched it decide whatever it wanted it to do next, her tea kettle whistled, causing her to step off into the kitchen to take it off of the burner.

As she footed through the walkway, multiple decorative pieces of birds draped the walls. Each laminated piece featured a different bird, but the one that stuck out most was from a French artist named L. Alvront. His vision consisted of a red robin sitting on a birch, chewing on an orange berry. The floor was hardwood, and sent a cold chill up her back as she made each step. Her phone rested on the marble counter, and she grabbed it to check just how cold it was outside. It was negative twelve with the wind chill, and she could feel it in her bones, even throughout her pink cotton housecoat.  

She dropped her phone into the pocket of her coat and retrieved a white coffee cup that had her name printed on it in bold yellow letters. Her husband had a matching cup that bared his name in the same color and font that rested right beside hers. She wasn’t expecting him to be home any time soon, but still took his mug from the cupboard and set it on the counter, next to the tea pot. As she poured her tea, she moseyed her way to the pantry to grab the honey that she’d religiously flavored her tea with. After shaking the bottle from left to right, she remembered that she used the rest of the honey last night and had forgotten to toss it in the trash.

Just as she was about to do just that, she heard a loud rustling coming from her backyard and walked over to the window, cup of tea in hand. The deer had gotten tangled in the fence and was struggling to make its way out. The deer kicked all four of its legs simultaneously in a futile effort to free itself. One front leg and one hind leg was caught underneath the fence, and would realistically be an easy rescue for the most simple minded individual. With her being a professor at the local community college, she knew full well that she’d be more than capable of freeing this animal.

She removed her housecoat and draped it over the wooden kitchen chair, still gazing at the trapped deer growing more agitated by the second. The snow kicked up and sprayed across the top of the fence that was lined with a thin layer of barbed wire to prevent any potential crop thieves from a simple get away.

Grabbing her jacket and fitting her arms through the sleeves, she grasped the black leather gloves that rested nearby the centerpiece on top of the kitchen table and put them on. As she opened the door and stepped outside into the frigid temperatures, a familiar but uncommon scent filled her nose. The smell of freshly cut grass taunted her as she stepped through the heavy snow that accumulated over the past month and a half.

She reached into her pocket and pulled out two capsules that resembled m and m’s and took a deep breath before dry swallowing them. The deer acknowledged her presence and calmed itself as she approached her breath visible after trudging through the lake effect snow below her. As she knelt down next to the deer, a sharp, brisk wind roughed against her exposed face, but she felt neither cold nor wetness against her knee. She was taken back to realize that the entire thirty two acres of land had been freshly cut, and the deer was roaming freely, leaping over the thin barbed wire with ease.

Once realizing but not comprehending what was going on, she stepped back and felt herself brush against a tree. As she turned around, she was face to face with the longest, thickest branch she ever laid eyes on. It stuck out from the tree at a peculiar angle, almost begging to be broken off. She placed her palm around the end of the branch and it snapped with little to no effort.

She had no idea why she was carrying this branch, but she walked with it, dragging it against the soft green grass until she had reached the fence to marvel over the deer that was sprinting along the open fields that were only recently cropped. She heard the engine of her husband’s car rumbling as he pulled into the driveway. She called him over without taking her eyes off of the deer, extending the branch through the fence and getting a huge laugh every time he’d brush up against it. Her husband looked on in horror, pure disbelief as his wife was stabbing away at this poor, helpless deer with the thickest, most sharp icicle he had ever seen in his life.


A nudge on her shoulder snapped her out of her state and snapped her back to reality.


“Mrs. Jameson, your husband is here to see you, but first you've got to take your medicine. A stocky male nurse handed her a Dixie cup with two capsules inside of it that resembled two m and m’s. She dry swallowed them and kicked her chair back, rising to her feet at once. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Vivify

Tiffany ended the call only seconds after her mother greeted her from the other end, shutting her phone off to foil any immediate call backs. She told herself that she turned the phone off to conserve her battery, rather than face the fact that she still avoided confrontation like the plague. She didn’t like to explore the darker sides of people, but she never thought that made her unique in any way. In fact, she couldn’t name one person who would prefer the darker side of people.

As she rose to her feet, she looked back across the street to see that the two men were done moving the antique book case from the truck and into the house. Strolling towards his front porch, she climbed the steps and opened the front door, letting herself into his home with no shame attached. She entered the living room that was off to the right with a joyous grin on her face.

The confused duo of Sean and Pat stared on as she made her way through the living room, critiquing the virtually non-existent d├ęcor. The walls were painted a standard shade of white and held nothing but a framed poster from the movie Mystic Pizza. It didn’t appear to hold any monetary value, which prompted her to spark a conversation.

“I love this movie! I try to watch It once a year, usually right around Thanksgiving, but I didn’t get too last year because I was living off of the land. I kind of miss that, you know? That connection with nature? It’s an incredible feeling.” She stepped over to Pat, who was sitting on the couch in front of the television, eating a sandwich with chips and watching sports highlights. Tiffany reached down and grabbed a handful of chips off of his plate, holding them in her palm as she paced the room.

“You don’t look like the kind of guy that would like Mystic Pizza enough to have a poster in your living room. Do you like Abba too?” A slight giggle followed her sarcastic remark.

“That thing belonged to my sister. She left it behind when she went off to college a few years back. I keep it around because it’s the first movie I saw with her at the theater. I still have my ticket stub.”


“That’s wonderful! Are you guys still close?”

“Not really,” he replied, getting visibly agitated at her invasive dialogue.

“You’re starting to show some of that bear in you now,” she observed from their previous conversation. It got a laugh out of him, making it a success in her eyes. “You know, I could decorate this whole room for you. I would love to do it. I could add a touch of life to this place.”

Her choice of words struck a chord in his chest, leading him to believe that maybe she wasn’t just some gypsy woman who he’d met by pure coincidence. He kept replaying the words in his mind, ‘touch of life,’ over and over again until he scrambled any intended meaning far beyond interpretation.

“My dad died,” she said before turning her back to him and leaving the home. She walked down the steps and towards a colorful garden in front of his next door neighbor’s house. Kneeling down on one knee, she began to pluck rose petals one by one and laid them down on the grass next to her. She tried to pick the deepest and darkest roses that were readily available. After doing so and compiling petals, she walked them back to Sean’s house.

As she stepped through the living room and into the kitchen, she reached for a mason jar that rested on the side of the sink. Sean entered the room as she filled the jar with cold water, asking what she was doing.

“Bringing life to your home, silly goose. Do you have a sponge? I need a sponge.”

As he dug through a cabinet below the sink, she asked if it was possible if she could spend some time with the bookcase that intrigued her so. He placed the sponge on the sink next to where she placed the mason jar, which now held the petals soaking in water.

“Come on, follow me,” he told her, leading the way to the bookcase. They entered an empty bedroom that had nothing but a window and a chair in the corner aside from the wooden book rack. She was oddly intimidated by the piece of furniture and she wasn’t sure why. Being afraid of an inanimate object seemed goofy to her, but there was something about it that felt off.

“This bookcase is amazing,” she said to Sean, looking at him look at her. “Can you imagine how many words this thing has held? Probably more than we could ever pronounce.” Her small joke made her laugh to herself as she began to rub it down, checking for cracks in the wood. As she reached the back of the enclosure, she felt something hollow in the middle. Her curiosity caused her to knock on it softly, confirming her suspicions.

“Sean, there’s something not right about this book case. We need to open it and see what’s inside.”

“Look, Tiffany, you’re… well, you’re acting crazy. First you come in here acting like you own the place, eating my friends chips..”

She put her arms to her side and cocked her head to the side, “so I can’t eat your friends chips?”

“No, you can’t eat my friends chips. That’s against the rules.”

“Whose rules?”

He looked at her like a parent who was getting a little too accustomed her the ‘why stage.’

“You know what, ok, nevermind. Eat all the chips from all my friends, but you’re not getting me to bust open that bookcase.”

“Yes I will. You just don’t know it yet,” she said as she turned her back on him once again. As she walked back into the kitchen, she grabbed the mason jar and removed the petals one by one, tossing them in the trash can beside her. He followed her back into the kitchen and looked on as she held the jar, which now held a dark blood red solution that was sucked from the rose petals.


She dabbed the sponge inside the jar and pressed it up against the wall with extreme care, blotting the walls. She thought that this color was perfect in its simple elegance, turning to a more easy shade of pastel red once it touched the paint. She felt that we as people were overexposed to artificial colors, the popping vibrance of made by man. This was a natural color, it came from the earth and she could think of no better way to bring life to something so dead.

Episode 7

John was the first one to enter the training facility, which was emptier than he thought it would be. The room held a few black elliptical machines and a treadmill under a massive spotlight. The walls were bare and looked as cold as the weather outside. A small twelve inch window exposed the winter storm that was happening beyond the walls, snow whipping from side to side, following the howling winds every command.

Charles ushered Jennifer into the room, followed by Cyrus and his group of guardians. As Jennifer made her way over to join John by the window, Charles gestured to the guards that they may leave. Once the guards turned to leave the doorway, Charles slowly closed the door, turning the knob until he could hear the latch close.

“So, I’m sure you guys have some questions for me. Especially you, sweetheart,” he said, directing his site at Jennifer.

Her wings hung down to the lower parts of her legs, and were starting to develop natural tattoos around the curves and arches. John circled around her, inspecting each new design. He traced the most prevalent line with his finger, following it from beginning to the twisty end in the center of her wings.

“Ah yes, those,” Charles commented, “well, the best way to describe it would be that their like fingerprints. Each wing has its own story, so to speak. Think of a fortune teller who could read your palm, it’s similar to that. It’s a natural process and is nothing to be afraid of, I assure you. Have you been able to spread your wings yet, Jennifer?”

She responded by shaking her head negatively, and then looking back down at the cement floor.

“Do I intimidate you?” Charles stepped over to Jennifer and used his thumb to gently lift her chin up, instructing her to look him in the eye. John cut in front of Jennifer, moving her back a few steps. Cyrus grunted in disapproval, causing Charles to address the tension that was building in the room.

“Cyrus, relax. It’s ok. He’s standing up for the girl who he thinks is the key to it all. He thinks she’s the answer, the reason. I’m here to tell you that you couldn’t be more wrong, my boy. You see, the only person in this room that is not expendable – is you, John.”

John’s eyes ate a whole through the chest of Charles, who began to circle the room, almost taunting him with the power he currently had over him.

“You see, John, I have seen your future. You are going to save our kind and you’re going to do it with a smile, because it is your destiny. Cyrus will play a role in it. Jennifer will play a role in it. You will play a role in it, and your role is savior. Do you think you could handle that? Actually, it doesn’t matter what you think, because you’re going to do it anyways.”

John scowled at the way he was being talked down upon, reminding him of the way he father had treated him so many years ago. His anger was starting to boil over, and Jennifer instinctively caught on to this, prompting her to grab his hand and place it in hers.

“You don’t have a choice in this matter, John. Nor do you, Jennifer. Cyrus has been with us for some time, how long have you been here now?”

Cyrus threw up four fingers, signifying the number of years he’d been at the facility.

“Four years now, my goodness. This is your third mission for us, correct?”

Cyrus grunted and shook his head yes, confirming Charles’ assumption.

“Let us get down to business now, shall we?” Charles stepped on the treadmill under the spotlight, demonstrating what was expected of both Jennifer and John. As the three of them looked on, he flipped a switch on the side of the machine that turned on the light above him.

“I thought we get to ask questions,” John said, growing increasingly frustrated with each passing moment. The question caused Charles to chuckle as he stepped off of the exercise machine.

“Today you are going to learn how to achieve your goals under intense conditions. This light here,” Charles said, pointing to the gigantic spotlight above them, “simulated what it would be like to  deal with temperature upwards of three hundred degrees.”

John’s tail slapped off of the floor, leaving him in complete disbelief.

“I have a question, Charles. Why would we need to endure that type of heat. A man can not survive that type of heat… Where the hell are you sending us?”

Charles stood in front of John and placed an arm on his shoulder.

“Who said anything about a man surviving those conditions? I believe that you are under the impression that you are human, and that couldn’t be further from the truth.”

John’s tail began to wag from side to side without intent. He looked down at his tail and saw a dozen four inch spikes poking from all directions.  Suddenly, a 40 inch plasma television was lowered from the ceiling, which turned on by itself once it was stationary.

Mrs. Margot graced the screen, watching a live feed of the room that they all currently occupied.

“Thank you, Charles.”

Charles bowed his head to the screen and stepped behind it, removing himself from her view.

Mrs. Margot commanded that the spotlight be turned on, and her will was realized rather quickly.

“Which one of you has volunteered to be first?”

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

White Sand

The sun beaming down from the cloudless sky made the white sand feel like a million hot coals beneath their feet. Two days into their honeymoon, they each held a margarita respectively as they assumed two empty island chairs that were shaded by a palm tree. The couple seemed to be made for one another, each possessing the same shade of brown hair and matching eyes. They were similar in build and intelligence, both welcoming the challenge of pushing each other to their physical and intellectual limits.

As they softly clapped their glasses together for a short toast, he looked in her eyes and thought of the future. For all of the reasons he could have imagined to get lost in her mesmerizing windows to the soul, the future was not one of them. Thoughts of children and the stereotypically outdated white picket fences taunted him, showing him that everything that he had ever wanted was laid out so neatly in front of him. He was looking back at the woman who had accepted would one day be the death of him.

The stress and the expectations washed away like the first sip of the margarita that now rested beside him in the sand.

“I thought you wanted to get some sun,” William remarked.

“I will, there’s still plenty of day left.”

“You better check the time again, love. We slept until 4:30 after last night. Which you do remember, right?” William’s tone suggested a slight hint of sarcasm, but he was certain that it went over her head. The disinterested giggle told him that he was right, watching as she grabbed for her phone to reply to a new text message.

As day gave way to night, they decided to pack up and stumble back to the lavish hotel room that they had rented for the next five days and four nights. Clearly affected by the amount of drinks they had both taken in, they mumbled and shared hidden and known truths alike. The current state of his new bride worked to his advantage, allowing her to be surprised at what he’d planned to have waiting for her upon arrival to the suite.

As she pushed the door open after trying multiple times with the door key, sounds of Elton John’s Tiny Dancer filled the room. A sense of disbelief came over her, stepping forward to a suite illuminated completely by candlelight. William walked in just after she did and grabbed her by the waist softly, whispering in her ear that the best was yet to come. She smiled at his confidence and approached the bed. William turned away from her to fetch more spirits that were compliments of the hotel and heard a shriek come from the bedroom area. Dropping the wine bottle on top of the kitchen counter, he ran out to see the source of the commotion. 

Looking at his wife, her expression changing from absolute joy to sudden tears, she dropped to her knees and began to sob quietly. As her husband approached her from behind and dropped on one knee behind her, he peered over her shoulder to see a dozen dead roses torn up and spread across the king sized bed.

All possible scenarios that ran through his head seemed illogical, leaving him a complete loss for any explanation. He told the Asian gentleman at the front desk to have the white roses that he provided spread out across the room and on top of the bed, but these roses were a dark blood shade of red. Rising to both of his feet, he reached for his cell phone and called hotel security.

Just as he was about to press the green button to send the call, she reached for his arm and pulled it back down.

“Wait… it’s not worth it, baby. Don’t call them, I was crying happy tears. I promise.”

He thought about it for a moment and nodded his head in agreement, sliding the phone back into his pocket. He sat on the bed and watched his wife undress before heading into the bathroom to do the same. As he unbuckled his belt and dropped his pants to the floor, curiosity got the best of him. William grabbed the cell phone from his pocket and made the call, standing in front of the mirror as he did so.

The conversation began innocently enough, asking flat out if anybody had been to their room or if they’d noticed any suspicious activity on their floor. The worker on the other end of the line relayed that his wife had authorized a spare key be made for her. Confused, William ended the call and was reaching for the door handle when the sea green shower curtain was slid open.

The criminal grabbed him by the throat and wrestled him to the floor. As William tried to fight his way out a choke hold, he looked up to see his wife standing over him holding a roll of duct tape. He passed out as she walked closer toward him.

Batting his eyes with urgent speed, his vision slowly came back to him, rising from the black wall of nothing that had just lay in front of him for forty plus minutes. He noticed a masked man sitting in a chair, talking to his wife who was holding onto his leather wallet. Once realizing that her newlywed husband had come to, she walked over to him and spit in his face.

His heart felt just as dirty as his face as he wiped himself clean, looking back at her. He asked her what this was all for, trying to make sense of it all.

“What’s this all for? Money? The god damn life insurance? You won’t get away with this!”

“Maybe I won’t, but there’s only one way to find out, William.” She looked at her masked companion, throwing a signal that they’d definitely worked out beforehand. The masked man lifted her husband and carried him to the balcony of the hotel that overlooked the parking lot and then the ocean. As he leaned him up against the railing, he punched him in the gut to weaken his stamina further, preventing any hope of a valiant comeback attempt.

She stepped in front of him, looking at him face to face one last time.

He fought through the pain to tell her something that had been weighing him for some time.

“You almost made me feel like I had to be somebody special to have you,” he said with tears welling in his eyes, “and the only reason I’m successful at all is because I had to have you.”

“And you did,” she said, before pushing him over the beige colored stone railing.


Friday, February 6, 2015

The Cure

The helicopter soared up ahead of the capsized ship, the black smoke rising from it made it even easier to spot. Inside the aircraft were four people, a pilot, a woman and two men, all three decked out in combat regalia. The two male soldiers had a bulletproof face shield pulled down in front of their eyes, an addition that their female superior had declined.

Her custom made gold plated helmet differed from everybody else’s on board, as it featured multiple badges and honors arcing across the brim. She looked through the windshield of the bulletproof helicopter and towards the clear blue sky. It was an otherwise clear day, if not for the thick, dark smoke emanating from the crash site.

She turned to her two colleagues and instructed them on the task at hand.

“Gentleman, we have been assigned to this precise location for a very specific reason. Do I have to explain this you before we land?”

Both cadets shook their head no, confirming that they knew what was expected of them.

“Ramos,” she called out, causing the soldier on the right to step forward, removing his helmet in front of her, revealing his scarred face. Looking at his newest captain without an obstructed view for the first time, he addressed her accordingly.

“Captain Devlin, Private Collins and myself are committed to seeing this mission through with complete professionalism.”

As Devlin nodded her head and turned around, she walked towards the pilot and began to brainstorm about potential landing spots. Collins removed his mask, revealing the face of a grizzled veteran, rich with stubble and his face telling war stories with each crack and fold. With matching combat uniforms, at first glance they would appear to be a long time duo, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

They had met mere days ago at the Recruiting Center for Athletic Beings, better known as RCAB. Located deep in the Seattle downtown area, the building was fairly well hidden, decoyed by a member’s only sign hanging on the front door. Technically it wasn’t a lie, just nobody bothered enough to find out that the membership was free. RCAB claimed that partners were selected at random, but it was quickly determined by both Collins and Ramos that they were matched intentionally, based on their backgrounds.

Ramos, being a four year Marine veteran was honorably discharged after suffering third-degree burns to his face from an IAD blast in northeast Baghdad. The skin graph that the government had paid for only did so much for his condition, leaving the majority of the right side of his face a scaley, beaming shade of red.

The thing that they shared in common was what they had given for their country, and the lengths they’d be willingly to go to complete a mission. Collins was dishonorably discharged from the Marines after an investigation found him guilty in conspiring to torture a key witness during Desert Storm. Finding work had been a struggle up until this point, but Devlin had promised him a hefty payday for services if everything ran smoothly.

Ramos leaned in to whisper a question to his comrade, “do you think she knows about me?”

“What do you mean? What is she supposed to know?” Collins peered back at him, confused as a deer in headlights before cracking a smile, leaning into his partners shoulder and belly laughing.

“Of course she don’t know, man. If she knew what you were up to, you’d be tossed off this chopper without a chute.”

“Yeah, well that actually breeds an interesting question,” he said, leaning against the side of the helicopter, “what would you do if it came down to me against her?”

“You really expect me to answer that right on the spot? It’s circumstantial. I don’t know who’s right and who’s wrong, all I know is that I’m here for a check and I plan on getting it, my man.” Collins pounded Ramos on the chest, causing his armor to echo within itself.

“Hey! I’m not fucking around!” Ramos grabbed his counterpart by the neck area of his armor, pushing him against the gun rack on the left wall of the helicopter. Looking on from the pilot control area, Devlin romped forward to break up the situation before it escalated further. Her green eyes cut like razor blades through candle wax, commanding them to halt with nothing more than a look.

“You guys need to cut the shit. You not only need to be out there for each other, but for me and him,” she yelled, pointing at the pilot who was landing the copter in a field a few miles ahead of them. “The Group has paid me, and you two, very well to complete this objective. Doesn’t thirty three and a half million dollars each sound worth it to scuba dive for twenty minutes? Get your shit together, let’s make The Group happy and get the hell out of here.”

Devlin reached for her backpack as the pilot lowered them down to the grass below, watching as her two soldiers followed suit. Once they reached the ground, all three piled out, one after the other. Devlin being the first one out, directed traffic as to where each member should go.

“Collins, you go towards the smoke, I’m gonna go a few kilometers into the forest to look for any possible survivors. Ramos, you circle the shoreline and radio me if you notice anything at all.” She tossed a camouflage painted walkie talkie to Ramos, and then to Collins as she ventured of into the wilderness, carrying her backpack over her shoulders.

“Why do you think she has such a huge load to carry?”

Collins stared back at his partner as he placed his helmet back on his head. “The better question is why you think it’s any of our business. She’s our superior and we’re paid to follow orders. Leave it at that,” he shot back, his words being muffled by the headgear that protected his skull.

“People like you is why Hitler was as successful as he was.”

“Excuse me?” Collins removed his headgear and stared a hole through him, “We’re out here for good. We’re doing God’s work. This ship sank, and our people made it sank for a reason. The ends are justifying the means here, and you need to accept that. Stop being such a whiney bitch and do your fucking job.”

Ramos made a few steps ahead of Collins, and then turned back around to face him once more. “You know, I don’t know why you find everything so easy to believe in. Why is it so easy to believe that we’re doing good when you know god damned well that there’s just as much of a chance that we’re doing bad? We’re not supposed to be here. It isn’t our place, man. I didn’t sign up for this. I didn’t sign up to scuba dive in the fucking jungle, dude.”

“Yeah? So what did you sign up for?”

The wind rustled the sprawling palm trees above them, causing them to look up and see a body dangling in a branch up above. Collins turned to Ramos, “you’re the Mexican. Climb the tree, pato.”

“Yeah, yeah, go fuck,” Ramos replied, grabbing a branch and shimmying his way up to inspect the lifeless body.

“I never said it was easy,” Collins shouted up to him.

“What?!”

“Believing that we’re doing good out here! It’s not easy!”

As Ramos attempted to shout back to his friend, a loud cracking sound was the root of the look of discomfort that overtook him. Fear was sweating from his pours as he swung himself from the weak branch to a stronger one, now directly under the man resting in the tree. Hanging in with all of his upper body strength, Ramos looked up to notice a locket dangling from the middle aged mans fingertips.

Reaching for it and grasping it was too much of  a risk, resulting in Ramos falling twenty feet to the sandy shore below, knocking him unconscious upon impact, the locket laying in the sand just above his outstretched right arm.


As Devlin ventured through the forest, she had expected that her cohorts would be thrown off her trail by the plant of the man in the tree. While she hated to come off as the bad one, what she was doing was in the greater good of everyone. She had been assigned this mission personally, but was allowed to bring on a team of her own to save face to the journalists that would eventually cover this game changing discovery.

She swore to protect the secret of her mission, and kept that solemn promise with every step she took, swaying with confidence and conviction. Pulling out a map from her left back pocket, she heard a crackling sound coming from her radio, quickly turning it off before it could distract her further. Completing her mission was the main goal, and she wouldn’t let anything interfere with it now that she was so close to making it a reality.

As she trekked through further and further, she unfolded her map once she reached a hut made of straw and mud. She placed her belongings on the dirt and softly stepped towards the entrance that was surrounded by bamboo torches with flames reaching at least ten feet in the air.

Setting her eyes ahead of her, she set her sights on a dark skinned man, covered with colorful hieroglyphic tattoos in front of a burning bon fire. He began chanting at her, grasping for the dirt that surrounded him to toss into the fire. She took a seat on a log adjacent to him that was so perfectly placed that it almost seemed as if she was expected. It was too convenient for her not to address it.

“Halamec, were you expecting me?”

Halamec rose from his throne made of sticks and straw, stepping into the fire, stomping it out as she clutched her radio.


Ramos woke up a splash of water and being shaken by his partner, immediately asking what had happened to him. After explaining that he had fallen after trying to check on the man on the tree, Ramos cut him off with urgency.

“We can’t let her get away with this, damnit. She’s gonna wipe out all of these people, this whole tribe.”

“What tribe? It’s just us, there’s nobody else her, man.”

“No! I’m telling you ---“

“Look, man. You’re out here searching for a truth that doesn’t exist. It’s all in your head, you’re fucking nuts.”

Ramos shot up to his feet and butted chests with Collins, pushing him back up against the palm tree that held the dead man. The force of the push rustled the branches, causing the body to jar loose and fall to the sand that they stood on. Collins stepped over to the man, who was now grunting and writhing in pain.

“You guys are ruining everything,” he said, struggling with each passing syllable.

Ramos ran over to him and picked up the locket that he had retrieved in the tree that he had climbed minutes before. “What does this mean to you? Is it yours?”

He hung the locket in front of his eyes, the initials ID were engraved in the center, taunting him as it swung from right to left.


Helemac kicked dust and dirt into the face of Devlin, causing her to back up and roll her way out of the hut. As she did so, she was met with gunfire by her two loyal soldiers. As she crawled towards them, she looked up to see Collins carrying a miniature treasure chest, wrapped  in purple and swamp green colored jewels. Her jaw dropped at this revelation and began to sob uncontrollably, screaming about how this wasn’t fair.

Ramos instructed Collins to softly let down the chest as Helemac stepped out of his hut. His bare foot and dirt lathered complexion stood out even more so in the day light, revealing boils all over the tops of his feet. He stepped forward with force, leaving dust clouds in his wake. He approached Devlin and grabbed her the neck, lifting her to face him eye to eye.

He looked to the clear blue sky and let out a horrific howl that could only be described as wolf like, exposing his sharpened teeth. As he thrusted his bite towards her throat, a single gunshot rang out. All four of them froze, not knowing who sent the fatal shot. None of them had their guns drawn, but Helemac dropped to his knees, bleeding from the abdomen. As he reached for some dirt to throw on his wound, Devlin crawled away and into the arms of Ramos, who hugged her tightly.

Ramos whispered into her ear, “was there ever any cure?”

She sobbed her head no and confessed that there was no scientific group, that there was no research, and that they were sent here to wipe out their only remaining God like figure. The pilot stepped out of the woods, his gun still smoking from the shot that ended Helemac’s life. Collins grabbed the backpack that belonged to Devlin, as she screamed out in defiance, watching him dump the contents on the ground in front of her.


Ramos gave his nod of approval as he reached down for the crow bar that resided inside of the navy blue colored backpack. As he cracked it open to see what was inside, the island disintegrated to dust, leaving nothing but crystal blue water to tell their fateful tale for eternity. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Coral Castles

Her curled dark hair swayed in the wind as she walked forward, full of intent and expectations. She was still wrestling with the answer to the question that plagued her most, whether the lifestyle chose her or she chose it. Growing up, she was given the gift of choosing her own path, and did exactly that. Her parents were wealthy, but she hated to be the girl that always got what she wanted whenever she wanted it. At the age of 22, she decided to give it all up to live the life of a gypsy.

Her vibrantly colorful dress, beaming orange radiance at the top swirled into a swamp green in the middle that faded into a loud yellow. Leaving everything behind was an empowering move in an otherwise standard existence. Yes, she had enjoyed caviar in the finest of banquet halls, and yes, she had felt the way that a rare pair of Jimmy Choo’s hugged her ankles, but was left feeling empty. Knowing that a huge part of herself was inexplicably, she immersed herself in the very idea of travel.

Daydreams of hot beaches and damp suburbs consumed her for an entire year before she had finally vocalized her intentions. Needless to say, her parents were disgusted at apparent disrespect of the life they had given her. It brought her mother to tears and left her father storming off in anger. She thought about them often and wondered if they did the same for her. Pride was the only thing keeping each of them apart, and neither of them wanted to flinch first. It had been a long twelve years since that day, and it seemed to dominate her thoughts more and more as she aged.

For whatever reason, maybe the subconscious satisfaction of knowing that mattered more than she ever thought she did, she was consistently ushered back to the times that she bonded with her dad. It was a rare enough occurrence for them to do something as simple as watch a movie together, let alone a trip Sea World when she was eight years old. It was the only big thing that they did together as she grew up, which is probably what made it stand out more.

Her dad was always clean shaven as his job at a law firm required it. The slightest amount of stubble could have resulted in his immediate termination and he never even sniffed risking it. Growing up, she was always infatuated with seahorses. Her dad took notice of this fairly early on in her life and decorated her room to look like an aquarium. He hired a professional painter to bring it to the surface, coloring the walls ocean blue. Pink and purple seahorses floated on all four walls and the base boards featured green coral as a border.

She had never forgotten the talk that she had with him before entering the seahorse exhibit. As tears filled her eyes because she dropped her vanilla ice cream cone, her father knelt down on one knee in front of her. Placing his hand on his shoulder, he looked her at his daughter in her brown eyes.

“Tiffany, look at me. Stop crying. Here,” he said as he handed her his handkerchief out of the front pocket of his grey suit. “We don’t cry when things don’t go our way in this family, you are better than this. Do you hear me?”

She shook her head yes.

“Do you know where we’re about to go? You’ve been waiting all your life for this! Are you excited?”

Again, she shook her head yes.

As they stepped through the doors, a look of pure amazement was written with bold letters across all of her facial features. Her smile shined as bright as the golden seahorses that swam all around her. She could see a lot of herself in the animal that she adored most, and knew more about them than anybody she had ever known.

Tugging on her father’s sleeve, she excitedly informed him that seahorses eat constantly.

“Dad, they eat all the time! Like, even more than you do!”

Her dad giggled with her, knowing that her comment meant no harm in regards to his stocky frame. “Dad, did you know that seahorses aren’t good swimmers? Their favorite thing in the whole world is to just stay in one spot for days.”

“Like me?”

She looked up to him and laughed before running over to a baby seahorse that seemed like it was showing off just for her.

“This one looks just like the one in my room!” The purple seahorse danced and juked about the tank as she stared on in absolute bliss.

Why this day had kept creeping into her mind was beginning to frustrate her. She arrived at her best friend Martha’s front porch and took a seat on the wooden swing. Martha was on her way home from work and never gave the impression that Tiffany was a burden. While friendships were hard to maintain with a nomadic lifestyle, she ensured that all of the bonds that she formed would be meaningful. She believed that everybody had a purpose, and it was her responsibility to not only discover it, but to encourage it. In fact, this was something that made living as a gypsy so appealing. Believing that we all played a role in each other’s lives,  and waving goodbye once it was fully realized, was her fuel.

The warm spring sun shined down on her, making her believe for a split second that she was mother natures darling. Laughing to herself, she watched as a black, rusted up pickup truck pulled to the white house across the street. In the bed of the truck rested an antique book shelf. She rose up and started to walk down the steps as the driver got out of the truck.

“I love this book case, it’s beautiful. Did you have it restored?”

The bearded driver, who wore a backwards black baseball cap, was taken back at the social bravery that Tiffany was currently displaying.

“No, no. My grandfather – he had this for most of his life. He just passed away last weekend.”

“Oh my word, I’m sorry to hear that. Was he a good man?”

Puzzled by the line of questioning, he gathered his thoughts to respond, but was cut off before the first word could leave his tongue.

“I’m sorry, I should have introduced myself. My name is Tiffany and I’m a seahorse. Shit, let me try that again. My name is Tiffany and I’m a gypsy. Who kind of wishes that she was a seahorse.”

The driver stared back at her, “Okay…. well, my name is Sean and I wish I was a bear.”

“A bear? You don’t look like you want to be a bear. You look like you want to be a bird. You want to fly away and get away from it all. Why don’t you spread your wings?”

“Probably because I don’t have wings.”

“Yes you do! You just can’t see them!”

The rumbling of an engine vibrated the road that they stood on as they watched another pickup truck come down the street, this one being red.


“There’s my friend Pat. He’s gonna help me get this inside. Where do you live?”

“Wherever I want to. I’ll be visiting with my friend Martha if you want to see me later,” she said, pointed at her friends home. Seahorses don’t bite, come say hi.”

He nodded his head and walked to greet his helper as she turned around and walked back to the porch. Martha strolled down the sidewalk a few moments later, her short blonde hair being unaffected by the mild breeze. Tiffany walked down the steps and walked to meet her half way.

“Who’s the guy with the truck and why have we never met him before?”

“I have met him before. He’s the sweetest, isn’t he?”

“We only talked for a few minutes, but yeah, he’s nice.”

As Martha rambled on about her work day, Tiffany couldn’t resist the urge to walk back over to the two men attempting to move the cherry wood book case, leaving her friend behind.

“Hey, me again. Hi. Do you have any books?”

Pat turned to his friend, “Scott, who is this lady?”

“Her name is Tiffany and she’s a seahorse.”

“Want to be a seahorse,” she interjected.

“Her name is Tiffany and she wants to be a seahorse. This is Pat and he wants to be a human, I think.”

A coy smirk accompanied by a tilt of her head spoke chapters regarding how she felt hearing that.

“Is that true Pat? You’re fine being a human being?”

“Yeah, I’d say so. I don’t think I’d be want to be anything else, really.”

Her cell phone vibrated from the inside of her bra where she placed it early that afternoon. Her call ID read that the call was from her hometown of Destin, Florida. She stepped away from the two gentleman to take the call, sitting on the grass in front of Martha’s home.

“Hello, is this Tiffany Tulliver?”

“It is, what is this in regards to?”

“Ms. Tulliver, my name is Byron Phillips and I have worked with your father for fifteen years. I have some disheartening news. Your father passed away last night from a heart attack. I’m very sorry for your loss, but your mother insisted that we find you to inform you of the inheritance that he left for you.”

Her heart sank to her stomach and she didn’t know whether this was an act of love or her fathers final act of defiance towards her life choices.

“Is my mother there with you?”

“She is, would you like to talk to her?”

“No. Tell her I’m sorry for all of it, but I can’t accept this.”

“Please, Ms. Tulliver, just talk to her. She wants to fix things before it’s too late. She doesn’t want to end up like your father.”

She thought about what she would say in return, and placed the phone on her lap as she collected her thoughts. She picked the phone back up and placed it to her ear.


“Put her on.”