Sunday, March 29, 2015

Episode 13

John accompanied Nick at the door, and he too was caught off guard at the three mirrored individuals. He slammed the door shut while pushing Nick out of the door way at the same time. If it only served as a temporary obstacle to anyone still inside the cabin, that would have been more than enough for John.

“My jacket, it’s still inside,” Nick remarked.

“Fuck your jacket old man, don’t you see these people?”

“Why yes, of course I do, but it is frigid out here.”

The three guests looked on at the two men bicker back and forth, mumbling commentary back and forth to each other. Finally, the blonde woman with the angel wings stepped forward to address both of them.

“Excuse us! The sun is beginning to set and we simply do not have the time to entertain whatever this is right now.” Both John and Nick ceased arguing and were immediately taken by her brash confidence. It was easy to see why she was the leader of this band of misfits.

“Merlin! Step forward and present the map!” The man with the tail stepped forward, folded map in hand. He knelt down on one knee in the snow, extending his hand towards John.

“So your version of me is named Merlin? What an awful name. I feel for you,” he said, snatching the map out of his grasp. As he unfolded it, Nick stood closer to him in order to get a better view. The cabin door eased open, and Jennifer joined both men outside. As to be expected, the first thing that caught her eye was her winged counterpart. She could care less about the map and immediately graced her presence.

“Your wings… May I see them?” It would be safe to assume that this recent jolt of confidence had a great deal to do with the whiskey that she had downed just moments ago.

The obviously powerful angel woman looked down at Jennifer, both figuratively and literally, before responding to her request. She actually looked like a wiser, more confident, slightly older version of Jennifer, and this resemblance caught John from the corner of his eye. He continued to discuss the map with Nick while keeping a portion of his attention on the two angels in front of him. As much as he wanted to bombard the trio with questions, he felt the smart thing to do was to let this unfold naturally.

“You may look at mine if I am able to inspect yours first.”

Jennifer looked at her and agreed before kneeling down with her back facing her, spreading her wings slowly. Merlin, the bald headed fellow with a tail slithered around her in excitement, his tail pit-patting against the snow under his feet.

Nick stopped reading the map that this mysterious trio had brought along with them to spend his full attention on the odd situation at hand.

“Marcus! Retain this savage,” shouted the winged woman who could most accurately described as a queen. Their cyclops stomped forward, sending dusts of snow a foot into the air with each step. He grabbed Merlin with one hand, snatching him by his neck and tossing him backwards with ease. Merlin rolled through the snow until a tree impeded any further progress.

John looked on and said, “badass. Why can’t ours be named Marcus?”

Nick chuckled and put his hand into the pockets of his jeans, causing John to remove the coat off of his back to pass to Nick. “Advantage of being cold blooded,” he said to the old man, trying to mask any hint of empathy he may have shown.

As Jennifer spread her wings to their full extent, the assumed queen ran her fingertips around the designs on her wings and inexplicably backed up from Jennifer. She hollered out for her cyclops, Marcus.

“Marcus! You and Merlin, go and retrieve me some fire wood. Don’t take too long, I don’t trust these folks.”

Marcus nodded in agreement and placed Merlin on his right shoulder, stepping into the green forest a mile or so ahead of them.

“Fire wood? We have a bon fire?” John asked her, folding the map back up and placing it in his back pocket.

“Something like that,” retorted the queen, “your angel here… let’s just say that she’s not an authentic item.”

“She’s not an item at all, you psychotic bitch.”

“Ah, so you must be John, which renders him useless,” she said as she seemingly transported to behind Nick, snapping his neck almost as quickly as his body hit the snow. “They warned me about you, child.”

“Oh yeah? And who would that be?”

“Tell me John, did they tell you that you were special? That this was your destiny? The only thing that you’re destined to do out here… is die.”

John had a witty reply on the tip of his tongue, but it remained there as screams of pain ruled the air. Jennifer had sprung into action and tackled the queen to the ground, wrestling her for a moment before pinning her, face down in the snow. Jennifer had rage in her eyes, and that was all that John needed to see to give him a reason to stay out of it.

The ground began to tremble as Marcus came rushing back as fast as he could, but without Merlin. Jennifer used all of her strength to extend this presumed queen’s wings. The rumbling fell silent as Marcus stopped dead in his tracks, looking on in horror as Jennifer ripped off the queens wings, tossing them onto the front porch of the cabin.

“I asked to see your fucking wings.”

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Rose Colored Dreams

Repeatedly hitting the snooze button on her alarm was the culprit behind her racing out the door in order to not be late for work. She hated to feel rushed and often wished that life could just slow down to her desired speed just once. She hissed and groaned as she made her way out of the door, shutting it behind her, only to have her new scarf get trapped in between. The minor inconvenience only made her seethe more; because she knew that something was already off about today. She was beginning to feel like that it might be a wash before it even really began, and that prospect was terrifying to say the least.

She wished that she had the time to entertain every possible scenario that could make the coming hours any worse, but she knew that she didn’t. Opening the door to release her grey scarf, she quickly slammed it shut again. After locking the door, she approached her vehicle, and briefly caught her reflection in the driver’s side window. It was odd to her that her reflection restored such order that her morning had lacked up until this point. Seeing herself make it all work on her own was a comforting feeling, one that she had always wanted to pride herself on. It was such an odd place to be for her, at this time in her life, to make all of this progress without even noticing it. The fact that she was so close to being where she had always wanted to be was both comforting and unsettling.

Her color was navy blue.

Her blonde hair brought out the most in her brown eyes, which kind of confused her. Regardless, she didn’t have the time for this, and she aggressively put the key into the ignition and turned it. The golden Acura rattled and kicked around before eventually life rumbled from the engine, allowing her to finally begin her journey. As she pulled out of the driveway and made her way down the streets that had become her closest friend, she had noticed a trio of bunnies hopping around in the field to the left of her. Common sense screamed to keep going, but curiosity whispered to pull over.

She weighed both options briefly and slammed on the brakes, the screech of her tires echoing throughout the forest green landscape that surrounded her. Looking in the rear view mirror, she was happy to see that the disturbance hadn’t scared off her furry friends. Her phone shook and rang out from her center counsel, totally killing any excitement that she had built up. She didn’t even have to answer the call to know who it was and what it was regarding.  She was late for work, but she didn’t care. She held her phone in her hand, contemplating whether or not to return the call.

Deciding against it, she placed the phone back in her hoodie’s right side pocket and stepped out from her vehicle. She gently closed the door as to not disturb the bunnies, but her attempt was ruled fruitless when they ran away anyways. A deep sigh exited her as she decided that she’d come too far to not meet them, so she trekked onwards. She was the furthest thing from a seasoned bunny tracker, but she had a general idea where they ran off to. There, in the small bushels that accompanied the mountainous trees was where she had suspected them to be. So she trudged forward, her feet patting up and down on top of the now dry land below her. Spring had done its job, but it didn’t stop her color from being a deep shade of burgundy.

It almost infuriated her that she was moving towards this bushel with such intensity, but she felt that even seeing them was trying to tell her something.  As she approached it with her final step and separated the branches from the seam, it revealed a group of seven bunny babies hidden on the ground. Her intensity dissipated and she began to relax for at the sight of them sleeping so peacefully. Her color was hot pink, until her phone had rang again. She grimaced at the site of it, and chucked it twenty feet ahead of her.

She bent down to pick up one of the children, but she heard a scream out in the distance, far and beyond where she presently planted her feet. As much as she loved animals, she cared about people more, and she most definitely made that known by gently dropping the baby bunny back into the bundle that she had initially retrieved it from.  Walking towards the deep male voice shouting for help, she began to wonder if she had been merely hearing things.

Her color was pastel yellow.

The cries increased in both sound and length as she got closer, confirming her original suspicions. She ran towards his screams, and noticed her cell phone laying mere feet away from her. She didn’t even entertain the thought of racing to get it, believing full well that this man needed her assistance more than she had needed her cell phone.

Her assumption proved to be the correct one, as she maneuvered her way through the scores of trees that surrounded his bloodied body. She rushed up to him, dropping to both knees to inspect his lacerations and where they may have come from. Her guess was as good as yours as far as the origins were concerned. The cuts spread from his chest to his pelvis, brandishing red, gushy openings. She was careful not to touch any of them, but did communicate with him.

She was as young as the moment was, and had never felt anything quite like this. To be in total control of the fate of another human being was something that would have overwhelmed her before, but now she felt so very capable.

“What happened to you? You’re a bloody mess,” she remarked to the wounded man. “What’s your name?”

“I’m dying over here,” he said in response, each word spaced behind forced breaths.

“Calm down. Why are you even out here? Nobody ever walks these trails, ever,” she shot back.

“Are you… are you seriously, AHHHH, FUCK!” He reacted in utter pain as she began to help him lean against the tree that stood directly behind him.

“Sir, I’m going to get you some help,” she said, as she attempted to stagger away, before collecting her balance.

Her color was some fucked up, dainty shade of orange.

She scrambled to retrace her footsteps, and it proved to be the only time that she had ever really missed the snow. Where the hell were the baby bunnies again? She knew that her phone was somewhere near them, and was determined to find it. The trees all seemed to gang up on her on similar regalia, and intimidated her to the point that her color was now puke green.

In the distance, she could see small specks of white hopping across the similarly colored grass. She was a long way from her paper flowers, and the immense forest served as a grave reminder. Having no idea where her car was parked from this point in the woods, her color transitioned to the brightest shade of orange.

She decided it was best to chase the bunnies, for whatever reason. No logical explanation ran through her skull as she did the same through the woods. The trees were just growing their leaves back again, just as she had grown back her self-worth a couple years before. The fact that nothing was crunching below her steps was a welcome one seemed to be too good to be true, like most things in life. She felt that way about most things, but could hardly help herself.

Her color changed to a sunset orange as she struggled to find the bunnies that plagued her so. They were nowhere to be seen, and she scrambled around nature’s playground until she eventually took residence under the shade of an oak tree. Enjoying the shade that it provided her, she looked over to  the right side of her vision and saw the bunnies frolicking through the recently grown weeds, and felt a sense of obligation.

She sprinted into action, chasing them, as her color became sky blue.

As she chased them down further and further down their path, they led her to her vehicle that read the name Maxwell  written on the passenger side. She slammed the door shut and continued on her journey, demanding more answers than questions.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Episode 12

Episode 12 (part 1)
Written by Andy Mascola

A young black woman came out of the cabin, wiping tired eyes. She wore a red jumpsuit exactly like that of the old man with the rifle.

“Nick, I heard two shots. What’s going on?” the woman said.

Without taking his eyes off of John, the British man turned his head toward the woman standing in the door to the cabin behind him.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, love,” he said. “I haven’t yet fired at our visitors here and they haven’t fired at me.”

John looked over at Jennifer. John’s hands were still up in the air. “You’ve got some explaining to do when and if we get out of this alive,” he whispered loud enough for Jennifer to hear.

Cyrus was at the edge of the woods. He let out a roar. The old British man the black woman had called Nick quickly moved his rifle so that it was pointed at the Cyclops’ chest. He pulled the trigger. John closed his eyes and winced, expecting another loud shot, but instead only heard a click. John opened his eyes and looked over at Jennifer. She was smiling.

“Bloody hell!” Nick yelled as he checked his rifle. “Kimberly! Did you remember to load this thing?”

“Yeah, I loaded it, Nick,” the black woman said. John noticed that her accent wasn’t British.

John dropped his hands. The Cyclops walked up to Nick and easily ripped the rifle out of the old man’s hands. He pushed the old timer onto his backside in the snow.

“Hey! Just who the hell do you think you are?” Kimberly shouted in what sounded like a New York accent as she marched out into the snow and pushed Cyrus roughly backward with all her might. She then helped Nick up and brushed him off, gently rubbing the back of his head with her hand and kissing him on the cheek. “Are you okay, baby?”

“I think we can explain everything if you’d invite us into your cabin,” Jennifer said as she slowly walked to where Cyrus stood.

“Are you armed?” Nick asked the three.

The trio didn’t say anything.

“Cyrus!” John said as if he was the seven-foot Cyclops’ father and he’d just caught his one-eyed son in a lie.

The Cyclops groaned disappointedly as he pulled the pistol from the inside of his black jumpsuit and held both the pistol and the British man’s emptied rifle, with the barrels pointed downward, toward Kimberly. The young woman took the weapons from the Cyclops and walked into the cabin.

“Well,” Nick said sighing. “Come along then.”

The three looked at each other and shrugged. They followed the resurrected old man and his young girlfriend into the cabin.

Inside the cabin was surprisingly warm. There was a wood stove in the middle of the room, but it wasn’t lit. John looked around to see electric heaters lined up against the walls. There was a picnic table with benches in the middle of the cabin with a map laid out on it. In the back John could see a small kitchen area on one side and a queen sized bed on the other.

“What do you have against wood stoves?” John asked.

“Wood stoves create smoke,” Kimberly started, “We can’t…”

“Kimberly!” Nick shouted, quickly cutting her off.

“Who are you afraid will see you out here?” Jennifer asked.

“You lot will answer our questions first,” Nick said. “Why did Kimberly hear two shots fired?”

“I think we’d all like to hear an answer to that question,” John said, turning to Jennifer with his arms crossed. “Care to enlighten us, Tinker Bell?”

“At the facility I was trained to focus my gift of time shifting,” Jennifer said. “This was before I even knew about my wings.”

“Jennifer is able to roll time backward for one or two individuals in close proximity for a short period,” Cyrus explained. “Those who have had Jennifer’s gift of temporal shifting focused on them will have no recollection of what transpired just before she decided to use her power in this way.”

“So, those were gun shots I heard,” Kimberly said.

“Yes,” Jennifer confirmed.

“I only ever have one bullet in this rifle,” Nick said as he reloaded the weapon with a bullet from a box on the picnic table. “Did one of those two shots she heard come from this rifle?”

“Yes,” Jennifer said.

“Where did the second shot come from?” Nick asked.

“That was Cyrus’ pistol,” John said. “Your bullet missed us. Cyrus’ bullet hit you in the chest.”
Nick began to laugh. “Hit me in the chest?” he said.

“I never miss,” Cyrus said shrugging.

“So, you’re saying, I fired a shot, you fired a shot; your shot hit me in the chest. I was…dead?”

“Yes,” Jennifer said.

“But you there, angel, reversed time, bringing me back to life?” Nick asked.

“That’s what we’re saying,” Jennifer said.

“Huh,” Nick said. “Okay, well, if I fired a bullet at you and it missed before your bullet hit me, then I’ll assume my bullet is lost somewhere in the woods and gone forever. Would you agree?”

“Yes,” Jennifer said.

"But your bullet hit me in the chest, right?” Nick said.

“Yes,” Cyrus said.

“But you reversed time and brought me back to life, right?” Nick asked, pointing at Jennifer.

“Yes,” she said.

“Well, in that case, I have just one question for you: where’s the bullet that supposedly entered my body?”

Cyrus walked over to the old man and picked him up with both hands under Nick’s arms.

“Hey! Put him down!” Kimberly yelled. “What are you doing?”

Cyrus shook Nick up and down forcefully, as if he was trying to force ketchup from a stubborn bottle, until a small fired bullet fell out of the left pant leg of the British man’s red jumpsuit and rolled across the cabin floor, stopping at John’s boot. John picked up the bullet and examined it. 

“Well I’ll be damned,” he said.

The Cyclops gently put Nick back down on his feet. Nick took the bullet from John and held it up to his eye. “My God,” he said. “I need to sit down. Kimberly, please make us some tea.” The old man felt at his jumpsuit and found no hole. He unzipped it and ran a hand over his gray haired chest. “Not a mark,” he muttered.

Kimberly walked to the back of the cabin and filled a kettle from a tap. She turned on an electric stove and placed the kettle on a burner. She opened a cabinet and took out five mugs.

“Now, you’re going to tell us who you’re afraid of finding you out here,” John said.

The sun was out far past its bedtime, and Kimberly remarked about such as she pulled out a glass bottle of whiskey for her company. As she clutched the back edges of the chair, she slid it out from under the table to create space for her to sit in between Nick and John.

“No shot glasses?” John questioned, but before he could get to the snark that would embody his next sentence, she twisted the cap off and took a swig straight from the bottle and passed it to Nick on her right.

The old man stared down the bottle and let out a grumbling sigh before putting it to his lips, wiping the remnants from his white mustache as he placed it back on the table. Cyrus was next in the rotation and was handed the bottle, which prompted Nick to ask a question that bubbled to the surface.

“Can you even drink, dude?”

 Cyrus stared back, holding the bottle that looked more like a 12 oz bottle of Sprite in his grasp.

“Never tried before, but I’m about to,” he said as he tipped the bottle back and sucked it down to the last drop. John put his head in his hands for a moment, and when he looked back up at Cyrus, he saw him wearing a smile from ear to ear. “More,” Cyrus demanded. It was clear that he had taken a liking to the spirit that was shared amongst them.

Afraid to question the demand of a gigantic cyclops, Kimberly shot to her feet and pulled another full bottle out of the cabinet. “You can have more, but you have to wait your turn,” she said, placing the bottle next to John.

“I’m not so sure that us getting plastered is going to help any of us, but what the hell?”

Jennifer looked on briefly before returning back to tracing the designs on her wings with her fingertips. John took a swig and passed it to Jennifer. She stared at the bottle and then back at John, almost to say that she wasn’t participating in this party.

“Aw come on. You’re out here in the middle of nowhere, the sun has been out two hours later than it should be, you’ve got fucking wings, you—“

Before he could finish his tirade, she reached for the whiskey and took a larger shot than everybody but Cyrus. Twisting the bottle back on, she pushed it back over to Kimberly.

“Ok, now that the introductory drinks are out of the way, can we get down to business?” John was salivating for answers just as much as he was for his next taste of alcohol. Kimberly and Nick both nodded back in agreement. Cyrus stumbled over and began to hug John from behind, causing John to wrestle him away. Cyrus stood against the back wall, still smiling and giggling like they’d never knew he could.

“It’s weird to see him so happy. He’s usually a living, breathing ball of… I don’t even know. Anyways, look guys, we’re out here and all we’ve been given is this map,” he said, as he pulled it from his pocket and handed it to Nick. “I’m guessing the X on this map is where we are right now, in the cabin?”

Nick nodded in approval before speaking, “yes, yes, my boy. You are exactly where you need to be.” Kimberly took her next swig and passed it to Nick. Nick let the bottle rest openly as he continued on.
“What’s your name again, chap? John is it?” John replied yes. “John, you’ve been given an incredible gift and it would be a travesty if you were to waste it. All of you, in fact.”

John interjected, “you’re not telling us anything they haven’t already told us at the facility. What is it with you people? Always talking in riddles,”

Kimberly rose up from her chair and looked him in the eye, “what do you mean you people?!

John slunk down in his chair before Nick started belly laughing. “Every fucking time,” Nick remarked while holding back tears. Kimberly laughed out oud and sat back down in her dinner chair.

“I’m sorry,” she said, “you set yourself up for that one.”

Once Nick’s laugh attack had passed, he took a shot and passed the bottle to Cyrus. His eyes lit up as he wobbled over to Nick to get his next taste.

“So why are you guys here? There’s nothing out here but you guys,” John said.

“Ah, but that’s where you’re wrong,” Cyrus said as he took a shot, and then another before passing it to John once again. The giant was feeling the effects of the elixir, struggling to keep his balance. Eventually he leaned against the wooden panel wall behind him to stabilize himself. “There’s a whole bunch out here, you guys just can’t see it. None of this is real. You aren’t real,” he mumbled and pointed to Nick.

“Oh my dear boy, I’m as real as the sun that sets in the West.”

John took the bottle and groaned before taking his turn kissing the whiskey.

“See what I mean? Everything is a fucking puzzle,” he said to Nick, which got a decent laugh from everybody in the room. “Really though, what are you guys out here for?”

Kimberly looked at Nick as if to ask who should be the one to let the cat out of the bag. Nick shrugged his shoulders and Kimberly pulled her chair up to the table even closer.

“We’ve been out here for seven years, two months and twenty-six days waiting for you three. We were recruited by the facility over ten years ago. Me and Nick were recruited separately, but they partnered us up and told us to wait for the three that would save all of humanity.”

Jennifer stopped playing with her wings and placed her hands on the table, more intrigued with each word.

“You three… you three have been tasked with an impossible mission and quite frankly I’d hate to be you when all of this comes to a head. I’ll get you what you came for and give you another map.”

Kimberly rose to her feet and ventured off into a back room. Jennifer took her shot as she left the room. Nick leaned over the table and extended his hand towards John.

“My boy, you have been chosen. I know this is getting repetitive but never forgot those words. You have been chosen. This is your destiny.”

Just as Kimberly stepped back into the room, Cyrus slinked down to the wooden floor and began to mumble incoherently. Nick smiled and remarked, “been there before, let him sleep it off.”

Kimberly shook her head in disgust as she placed a second map on the table.

“None of this is real. It’s all a game. We’re all pawns…” Cyrus continued to talk in his sleep, but nobody really paid attention to what he was saying besides Jennifer. She walked over to him and rubbed his chest until he fell asleep.

“This is where you’re going,” Kimberly said, “this is where it all leads to.” John was about to grab the map and put it in his pocket when they heard a knock at the door. Nick reached for his gun and sneakily approached the door. Cyrus’ loud snoring wasn’t aiding in their attempts to be quiet. Nick creaked the door open and his jaw was agape when he saw who was outside of it.

In the blistering cold stood three people, and one of them held a map in his hand.  Nick couldn’t believe his eyes when he realized he was staring back at a man with a tail, a cyclops, and a blonde woman with angel wings. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Episode 11

The trio looked on as the leaking corpse of the elderly man began to sink into the white abyss below them.  It was almost like that the earth that rested so deeply below had reclaimed his entire being. The look in Cyrus’ eye was one of confusion, and that struck John as a little bit more than odd.

“You’ve never seen that before?” John asked the Cyclops before turning his attention to Jennifer for a brief moment. Cyrus shook his head no and walked over to the spot where the man lay dead. The bright red blood stain was the only thing that served as a reminder of the murder, and even that was being buried by the heavy snowfall.  Visibility was beginning to become more of a factor than John would have liked, and Jennifer approached with him a potential plan.

“I know I’m still getting used to these wings, but I think I can keep us warm for the night whenever we decide to set up camp.”

John looked back at her bewildered.

“We’re not setting up camp anywhere. We’re going to do this and be done with it,” he said back to her. She picked up on the urgency he had displayed in his voice, and knew that he truly believed that whatever lay ahead of them could and would be faced head on. “I don’t know if this is my destiny,” he stopped himself and corrected his words after seeing just how cold his two counterparts were, “our destiny, but we’re going to do this.”

He wasn’t even sure what he meant by this, but he knew that he meant it. Cyrus ventured over and lifted John up on his shoulder, carrying him like a sack of potatoes. John wasn’t too fond of this approach and cussed and attempted to fight his way off before realizing that resistance truly was futile. Cyrus jokingly said those three words to him, “resistance is futile,” as he tossed him off his right shoulder just as easily as he’d picked him up. John began to wipe the snow from his jacket and pants as he rose to his feet, charging Cyrus.

Cyrus dodged his advances, showing off swift moves that could be attributed to a matador.

“You haven’t learned yet, your tail is your best friend. You could have easily broken my hold on you if you’d have just used the damn thing.”

Jennifer finally caught up to the two of them and tried to intervene before things escalated any further.

“You guys need to get along! You don’t have to be friends but we need to work together. They told us the importance of that at the faciiity!”

“Fuck the facility,” John retorted. “They said a lot of things at the facility, it doesn’t mean they’re true.”

Jennifer looked on, carefully crafting her next words very carefully.

“John, listen to me. The things we seen, the things we all went through… there’s something to what they’re saying to us. Why is it so hard for you to believe?”

“I think the better question is what makes it so easy for you to believe?”

Jennifer clenched her first and hung them at her sides, stomping her feet into the snow. Her anger gave way to a side of her that he, or even she for that matter, had never seen. Her wings spread to their full extent and her eyes turned a dark shade of red. They resembled the fires of hell, or maybe a glass of red wine straight from Italy. He would prefer the wine analogy than imagining the fires of hell.

Cyrus stood back and seemed as if he knew what was going to happen next. The ground shook and they could hear the rumbling of trees in the distance, and a familiar voice rang out ahead of them. It was the British man who had recently been shot and killed by Cyrus mere moments ago. He was wearing the very same red jumpsuit outside the very same shack.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” said Cyrus, which caused Jennifer and John both to look at him with a sly smirk on their faces.

John took the lead and again advanced towards the man with his hands in the air, letting it be known that he meant no harm whatsoever.

“Stop right there, son,” said the British man.

“I’m from the facility. I was given a map to get here.” John dropped one of his hands and started to fish in his pocket for the map.

“Hands up, lad!” the old man shouted as he raised and cocked the rifle. It was now pointed at John’s chest.

John could hear Cyrus approaching in the distance. He held his arms back to motion to Cyrus to prevent reliving the same outcome all over again.

“Stop! Cyrus, stop! We’re not supposed to kill him!”

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Episode 10

Episode 10
Written by Andy Mascola

The three unique individuals had finally been freed from a mysterious facility.

John, the assumed leader of the trio, would be hard pressed to explain how he had first arrived at the same compound he now found himself outside of just days later. He would have had an even more difficult time relaying the story of how he, by some strange and magical genetic awakening within him, sprouted a three-foot-long, completely self-manipulative tail from just above the crack of his ass.

Jennifer, a beautiful young blonde woman, had had a similar genetic mutation awaken during her time inside the facility. A stunning pair of white feathered wings now hung from her back. These appendages, however, proved to be more than just an aesthetically pleasing visual novelty. Jennifer’s wings had the added feature of being able to regenerate if exposed to destructive elements.

The third, and perhaps the most mysterious, of the three was a Cyclops named Cyrus. Standing at over seven-feet-tall Cyrus’ interactions with John had all been acts of violent intimidation. He appeared initially as a prisoner within the facility, but soon came to be viewed, at least by John, as a muscular goon used purely for the protection of the facility’s caretakers. This put an instant bad taste in John’s mouth. Could Cyrus be trusted to assist his average-sized comrades if the occasion arose?

John was aware that Jennifer knew more than he did about the goings on within the compound. 
However, at this point in their relationship, what was more important to him was that he could count on Jennifer as a friend and an equal in his disdain for the way they’d been treated by the facility’s caretakers up to this point. John wasn’t a fool. Just because she had wings didn’t mean she was an angel. After all, Satan had wings too.

The three trudged through snow that came up to just above their ankles. John was in front, followed by Jennifer, with Cyrus behind. They all wore black jumpsuits which had been supplied by the facility.

John walked between some trees and over a small hill. He stopped and turned. He could no longer see the facility. The wind was fierce. He reached in his pocket and took out the map he was handed before the door to the compound was shut and locked behind them.

“The big guy’s barefoot,” Jennifer said as she came over the hill.

“What’s that?” John said, turning to look at her.


“Who gives a shit? That mother fucker can freeze for all I care,” John said.

“Hey, Cyrus,” Jennifer shouted over the whipping wind to the giant who was now making his way up
the hill behind them.

The Cyclops stopped and looked up.

“Aren’t your feet freezing?” Jennifer asked.

Cyrus looked down at his huge fleshy pavement pounders and then looked up at Jennifer and shrugged without saying a word. The giant took a deep breath, exhaled, and continued walking toward where John and Jennifer now stood. John examined the map.

“How much farther?” the winged woman asked.

“I’m guessing we’re here,” John started, pointing to a spot not far from the rectangle which was the compound they’d left behind. “This line shows us going at least another seven miles until we get to this smaller square here at the opposite side of the paper.”

“What happens when we reach that square?” Jennifer asked.

John shook his head. “I hope we can at least get some goddamned supplies. I don’t know what time it is, but I’m guessing it’s going to start getting dark in the next four hours or so. If this weather gets any more brutal we’re going to die from exposure.

“This jumpsuit’s keeping my body pretty warm. As long as I keep my hands in my pockets it’s not too bad,” Jennifer said. “How are you doing?”

“My body’s pretty okay,” John said. “My tail, on the other hand…” John and Jennifer both looked down at John’s tail peeking from between his legs. It was shaking like the end of a rattlesnake.

Cyrus walked up behind John and Jennifer. He looked over their shoulders at the map and snorted. John turned and looked up at the hulking brute. The Cyclops was breathing hard through his mouth and he had snot dripping from his nose. The giant’s horrible breath smacked John in the face.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” John muttered turning back to the map.

The three walked for another five miles in silence. John walked ahead and would stop to check the map every once in a while to make sure they were still going the right way. He listened for the sound of passing cars. Nothing. No people. No animals.

After passing through a particularly thick cluster of very tall leafless trees John stopped and squinted. 

He could see a small wooden shack approximately two miles ahead. Outside of the shack was what looked to be a human form in a red jumpsuit seated, or maybe squatting.

“What’s up?” Jennifer asked as she walked up to where John was now standing.

He pointed.

“What now?”

“I’m guessing he or she hasn’t seen us yet,” John said.

Cyrus caught up to the two and Jennifer was pointing so he knew where to focus the giant eye in the middle of his face.

“I’ll walk ahead. You two hang back for five minutes before following me,” John said.
John walked toward the shack. As he got closer the woods thinned out. After about a half hour of walking he was close enough to observe the person in the red jumpsuit seated outside the shack. It was most definitely a man. He was a much older man than John, with a beard and moustache made up of mostly thick gray hair. The man was sitting on a folding chair with a rifle across his lap. As John approached, the older man stood, holding the rifle across his body.

John held his arms up to show he wasn’t armed. “Hello,” he said as he now walked slowly toward the old timer.

“Stop right there, son,” the old man said in what sounded like a British accent.

John stopped approximately thirty feet from the old man with the rifle. The old man’s right hand slid from the butt of the gun to the trigger area. He tucked the backend of the rifle under his armpit, but kept the barrel pointed down.

“I’m from the facility. I was given a map to get here.” John dropped one of his hands and started to fish in his pocket for the map.

“Hands up, lad!” the old man shouted as he raised and cocked the rifle. It was now pointed at John’s chest.

John took his hand out of his pocket, minus the map, and raised it back in the air. He suddenly had another idea. John’s shivering tail slowly made its way around his waist and into his front pocket. John felt the tip of his tail grip the folded paper and pull it out.

“What the bloody hell is that then?” the Englishman demanded. His eyes were now wide and his mouth hung open as he watched John’s tail retrieve the map.

“That’s kind of a long story,” John said sighing. Just then Cyrus and Jennifer emerged from the woods behind John.

The Englishman saw the Cyclops and the winged woman and immediately raised the rifle to his eye. John could see he was shaking with fear. Cyrus summoned a deep and angry rumbling roar from inside his huge lungs.

“Look out!” Jennifer yelled. She ran and grabbed John, her wings wrapping around both her and him as she fell pulling both of them to the ground.

As they fell, a shot rang out from the old man’s rifle, followed almost simultaneously by a shot fired from a much closer source.

Jennifer’s wings unwrapped themselves from John. Her arms let go. The two slowly stood. John looked to see the old man lying face down in the snow, a deep red pool of blood soaking into the whiteness around his motionless body. There was still smoke coming out of the barrel of the British man’s rifle that now also lay on the ground.

Jennifer and John turned to see Cyrus holding a pistol at his side with smoke curling out of the end.

“Where the fuck did you get that?” John asked the giant in shocked amazement.

Cyrus smiled. “Why do you think they had me in manacles?”

Monday, March 2, 2015


Sean’s truck pulled up to the curb alongside the brick house that his grandfather had called home for the past forty-three years. He had certainly never entertained the idea of bringing this lady who thought she was a seahorse along with him to a place that meant so much, but here they were. He turned his key that was placed in the ignition and cut the engine before removing it. Sean was the first one out the vehicle, his door shut just as hers had opened. Tiffany chased after him and stood in front of him to impede any further progress.

“Maybe I should just dip under your arms like you did at my place?” The smirk that accompanied his words told her all that she needed to know. She was growing on him and she knew that this was both tragic and beautiful. Tragically beautiful, she thought to herself. While he stood just before the front steps, she tried to read his mind through his eyes. This had never worked for her, but she gave it a shot anyways. As she tried to do so, the only thing that came of it was a headache that would last for the rest of the afternoon.

“Damnit,” she inadvertently said aloud, causing him to wince and ask what was wrong. “Nothing, just tried to read your thoughts. It hurts sometimes. All of the time,” she said as she sat down on the grass beside the brick front porch.

“You’re going to get your dress dirty. Here,” he said, extending his hand for her to grab to support herself back to her feet. “Come on, I’m sure there’s aspirin inside.” She latched on to his arm and gathered herself back to her feet, holding his hand as they walked up the stairs and eventually through the massive black front doors. The door itself made her think of a draw bridge from way back in medieval times.

As they shut the door behind them, she leisurely strolled through the corridor, taking in each family photo like her next breath. She wanted to become them, she wanted to be one with them. The dated black and white photos didn’t give off that foreign vibe that other people’s photos usually do. There was something about them and she couldn’t quite put her finger on it just yet, but she knew in due time it’d come to her effortlessly.

Her headache intensified as she tried to sell herself on the idea of this place and everything it held being a part of one of her past lives. She halted and grabbed both sides of her temple with each of her hands, crouching down against the brown painted walls. Sean, who was only a few steps ahead of her realized that she had shriveled down against the wall.
“Are you ok? Do you get migraines or something?”

Going along with his assumed explanation was far easier than attempting to explain the real reason behind her sudden ailment. She shook her head yes and requested a glass of water. She slowly climbed to her feet and leaned against the wall just as he returned with the cup and two Advil tablets.  Tiffany thanked him for his help and tipped her head back as she swallowed the aspirin, handing him back the empty glass by extending her arm to its maximum reach, turning her head away from him until he accepted it.

“I would call you weird but that’s old hat to you by now, ain’t it?”

She chuckled and stood upright before asking, “so when do I get to go through the other stuff?” She followed him into the kitchen and watched place the cup in the sink before he answered her question. “we can do it now if you’d like. Sooner the better, I could change my mind, you know.”

“You wouldn’t do that to me. You’re too nice,” she said back. He knew that she was right but did all that he could not to show it. He figured that she could probably see right through it anyways, so he was actually questioning why he’d even bother trying to hide it. Hiding emotions was something that Sean had never been too good at it, and he was unsure whether it was by choice or not. He liked the idea of being a person, but maybe she was right when she said that he wanted to be a bird. He felt like a bird. Well, half bird-half human.

“I wonder what that would look like,” Tiffany remarked.

Sean stood there in disbelief, staring at her.

“Did you just –“

She cut him off before he could finish his question. The largest smile he’d ever seen had overtaken her face.

“Yes! I did!”