Wednesday, August 24, 2016

#TheLostRoadtoHope #DontSurviveLive #Dreamcast

Powers Boothe as #JacksonMallory

#wearebeggingyouamell #whynotamell #roadtoamell #doitfortheartamell

www.ronaldrossmannjr.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eD7Hd0R9bGk

From The Lost Road to Hope
Chapter 11: Confession without a chance
of redemption

I had been walking around aimlessly and I suddenly realize I am back in the store. Jackson is standing at the counter starring out the window. I wake up from my stupor and try to reverse course, hoping he won’t see me.

“I can smell a cop from a mile away,” Jackson mutters with his back still towards me. I try to act like I haven’t heard him but it is too late. “I knew you were a cop from the first moment you entered the clinic,” he continues. 

“Is that so!”

“Yes, that’s so, you don’t remember me do you,” he adds still gazing
out the window. 

“Yes, counselor, I do,” I reveal, “although it has been a long time.” 

“I thought you did,” he responds. “You know you have quite an achievement you may be completely unaware of,” he continues, “do you know what that is?” 

“No, enlighten me,” I quip. 

“In fact you have done more than you ever could have imagined,” he continues. 

“Are you speaking of the Gazelle Case,” I respond?

“Good memory, detective Trevor, very good memory,” he replies.

“It was my first trial,” I announce. 

“It was just one of many for me, all wins, until that fateful case,” he boasts.  “I had the best record as a defense lawyer in the city, hell the entire state,” he remarks. “I was being courted by every major law firm in the nation; I was a legend, on the fast track,” he continues, “there was no stopping me, or so I believed, and then that damn Gazelle Trial. You know when I first saw you, you looked familiar, but I didn’t truly place you until your conversation with
Doc just a few minutes ago.” 

He finally turns to me.

“Ellis Gazelle, accused of the murder of two of his best friends over drug money,” he begins with all the grandiose of a true attorney, “No weapon found, friends had shady pasts, no witnesses, it was, as far as I was concerned, a home run.”

“No jury in the world could find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” he sits on the counter. “I already had the traditional celebratory bottle of bubbly chilling in my mini fridge at the office and a case of Cubans in the humidor ready to go,” he continues. 

“Sorry to have spoiled your little party there,” I interject, “it must really suck for you when the truth trumps your snake oil.” 

“Pisses me off to no end,” he retorts, “truth is subjective, detective, and it is all in the way you tell the tale to the jury.” 

“You keep believing that,” I respond, “for you that warped reasoning may make sense, but for most, the truth is just that, the truth.”

“Yes, for the naive, or so I thought,” he debates, “ for years I swore by my way, that is of course, until you came into my little playpen.” “You turned my entire world upside down in a little under ninety minutes,” he explains, “That was the exact length of your testimony, including cross examination.” “You came out of left field, Trevor, and I bobbled the ball,” he shakes his head, “you were so very convincing to every one of those imbeciles, they bought every word you were peddling hook, line, and sinker.”

“That’s what you miss, counselor,” I correct, “I wasn’t peddling anything, that’s your M.O., I just told the truth.” 

Jackson pauses and then sighs, “Yes you did, but that has never hurt me before.”

Jackson grabs a pack of cigarettes from behind the counter and
a lighter near the register. 

“Hurt me, hell, it damn near destroyed me,” he lights his cigarette, “that case garnered the national spotlight; Gazelle was the son of a senator, if I were to get him off, I’d be able to write my own ticket.” “In fact Senator Gazelle himself made me a promise, if his boy walked, I would never have to worry for anything again,” he blows out a huge billow of smoke. “I would have been set for life,” he laughs, “Now that is my kind of truth.”

He hops down off the counter, “but it wasn’t meant to be, your testimony, added in with witness you found, turned my future inside out. How the hell did you pull that off, I mean my team scoured the city, looked under every rock, and found zilch.” 

“It’s called good police work,” I retort. 

“That my friend is an oxymoron,” he replies.

“When Gazelle’s very rich and powerful dad got through with me, I had zero chance in hell of ever being more than what I was,” he laments, “I promised him the world, he took mine away.” “All because of you cop,” his eyes widen, “and you are still playing the hero.” “Of all the people to survive with, it had to be the bane of my existence,” he snarls, smoke drifting from his flaring nostrils. “I hate you in ways that would make the devil blush,” he insists and points his cigarette at me.

“I recognized you after your little spat with Kayla in the clinic,” I explain, “I never forget a face, I usually have instant and total recall, I guess in your case I wanted to forget.” 

“I wish I could have forgotten you,” he begins, “After Gazelle turned my reputation to shit, he assured me that every law firm in the United States thought of me as a legal leper. He somehow even managed to get me fired from my regular job.”

He takes another drag and leans on the counter. “Nobody wanted me, the media eviscerated me, and I was heading to rock bottom fast, with anchors tied to my shoes.” He looks down at the floor. “I had nowhere to go, no one to count on,” he continues, “so I had to do the one thing I promised myself I would never do, no matter what, I crawled back to evil incarnate, my father.”

He pauses again and pulls off a few more drags. The wisps of smoke encompass his head. As he ponders in silence, he puffs to the sequence of the thoughts registering in his mind. 

“He was so happy to see me, so pleased that everything he had prophesied about me had come to fruition.” “He always thought I was a loser, he use to say, success and me were like oil and water, never mixing,” he remarks, “he was almost giddy when I came to him with my tail between my legs, an utter failure.”

He continues to stare at the ground, his cigarette all but ash singing the sides of his fingers. He is unfazed. 

“My dad finally got me a public defenders job in another city, defending the most atrocious of people,” he laughs, “Right up my alley, huh.” His tone and attitude suddenly changes as he flicks his butt to the ground. 

“I just grinned and bore it; it was a second chance,” he continues, “Sure it gave my old man all his power back over me, all the control. “I was his little Pinocchio, a puppet with too many strings to count.”

I actually find myself beginning to feel sympathy for this rat in a suit.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

‪#‎TheLostRoadtoHope‬ ‪#‎DontSurviveLive‬ ‪#‎Dreamcast‬

Brett Dalton as #MattSawyer

‪#‎wearebeggingyouamell‬ ‪#‎whynotamell‬ ‪#‎roadtoamell‬ ‪#‎doitfortheartamell‬

www.ronaldrossmannjr.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eD7Hd0R9bGk

From The Lost Road to Hope
Chapter 20: The quiet chaos before the storm

Matt continues, “Each patient immediately becomes a part of his extended family. He feels every bit of their struggle and pain. No one celebrates more when they achieve remission or success in treatment; no one suffers more when there is a setback. In that way, we are very much alike. As a pastor when you fail a soul who comes to you for guidance, sometimes as their very last chance for hope, no matter what you say or do you just can’t bring them to the peace they so desperately seek, you can’t help but feel a level of uselessness that is almost crippling. It’s something you can never prepare yourself for, not only do you feel like you have failed them, but worse, you feel like you failed God.”

I never stepped foot in a church before, I was afraid I would burst into flames as soon as I walked in the door.

“I counseled him after he lost both his wife and son,” Matt continues. “We spent a lot of time together; long before I knew about my own illness. I never let on but with each meeting I felt more and more useless to him. No amount of seminary training ever prepares you to deal with real tragedy. Every scripture feels stale and clich├ęd. Even though you may have absolute faith in it, it somehow gets lost in translation when relaying it to someone who is truly hurting. In the end, I just tried to be there for him, not as a pastor but as a friend. Even then I felt like I failed him because nothing I seemed to say or do helped him. I saw him fall deeper and deeper into his own personal darkness.”

“But then, when I believed he had slipped into the abyss, out of nowhere, there was a change. I saw a man worn by his sadness suddenly revitalized and I had nothing to do with it. Secretly, selfishly, I was very jealous. For the longest time I refused to ask him what had caused his wondrous turn around. But I am
ashamed to say, my curiosity finally got the best of me and I asked him during one of my sessions with him.”

Alex remains silent. I knew something had happened to Doc, but never found out what it was.  He had all those pictures in his office; I thought his family was alive. How come I remember that and so little else?

“Then I found out about my disease. By the time I reacted to it my cancer spread faster than it could be treated. My wife had left as soon as she found out I was sick, and the church abandoned me almost a year to the day. I was alone, even unable to feel the presence of God. I was lost in my own trials and forgot what hope ever looked like. I had reached a low I didn’t know existed. That moment you realize the war has been lost and now it was just coming to grips with the terms of surrender.”

How I am supposed to believe in a God at all?

As if all that I have been through wasn’t proof enough, even the preacher gets left out in the cold. I mean, do you think all that has happened would have happened, if God did exist!

“But it then I realized a great truth, God is silent for a reason. He stays silent so we become so desperate to hear him that we clear away ever other voice that could distract us or any of our own preconceived answers. We become humbled and surrender ourselves to the knowledge that it is only God who can rescue us. At that moment, after weeks of torturous quiet, he chose Rick as His ambassador.  He clearly saw me losing hope and that was when he told me his story. Every detail of what you had done for him. It had as significant of an impact on me as it did on him. Who would have thought? It really is such a very small world, smaller than we can ever imagine.”

“We are all connected like an organic, living jigsaw puzzle oblivious to the big picture. Different pieces that make up a beautiful whole. It is God who fits the pieces perfectly together when the timing is right. I have witnessed that every moment of my life, and yet during my own tribulation, how quickly I forgot it.  We never know the impact we have on people, like ripples in the water after a pebble is dropped in, spanning out indefinitely. At that point in time, you saved my life too. How would I ever know that I would have the chance to tell you that? I may have not known you in that waiting room by your face, but once I heard your name, I knew you very well.”

I am utterly floored by everything he has just said, speechless.

Apparently so is Alex.

How do you respond to something like that?

Saturday, August 20, 2016

#TheLostRoadtoHope #DontSurviveLive #Dreamcast

Erin Richards as #TaraRayne

#wearebeggingyouamell #whynotamell #roadtoamell #doitfortheartamell

www.ronaldrossmannjr.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eD7Hd0R9bGk

From The Lost Road to Hope
Chapter 27: Connections

Tara continues her bizarre tirade, “I was a crack head, since I was
twelve, whoring my way through my teens; it was the only way to feed my habit. My mom died when I was only a child, she was mega whore I knew that even then. I am amazed to this day; I wasn’t born with AIDs or worse as much as she fucked around. Her drug of choice was heroin, I remember playing in that shit
hole of an apartment of ours, while she lay motionless on the bed, the needle still sticking out of her emaciated arm.”

“She was always so thin I am surprised the damn thing didn’t go right through. A child shouldn’t see that, be forced to remember that. Most barely remember anything from that age, not me; I was fortunate enough to have those images burned deep into my psyche. I didn’t have warm and fuzzies about school plays, Christmas mornings, and all that shit. My mental scrapbook contains images of my bitch of a mother, strung out; naked, lying on her bed, surrounded by her own filth. Do you know how long it took me to realize that a girl smelling like urine wasn’t the norm, that a house shouldn’t reek of shit and vomit every day?”

She is shaking, barely able to stand on her own. There is no stopping her, it is all just flooding out with nothing to dam it.

 'Well for me that was the norm, that was what I woke up to and went to bed to every fucking day and night,” her confession continues “So what do I do, do I break that vile cycle, fuck no, I amp it up a couple of notches! I hated my mother, and the life of squalor and horror she forced us to exist in. I was there the day she choked on her own puke and died, but I didn’t see it, her on the bathroom floor sprawled out laying in the shit that covered the tile floor. I didn’t know at the time, no one did, until the stink got so bad one of my crack head neighbors couldn’t stand it anymore and came over. They found me playing with my ratty toys, half starved, and waiting for mommy to come out of the bathroom. When the police finally got there and found her, the way she was, they got sick too. I never saw the body, but I am sure it was a little slice of hell to see.”

She begins to pace for a moment. Her shaking is getting worse; she dodges Matt every time he tries to approach her. Her eyes are vacant; she is lost in memory, spewing each and every detail of her past.

“They took me away and I lived either in foster care or on the street until I was nineteen. I lived for crack; it let me forget all the shit in my life, the only thing that kept me going, gave my fucking existence any worth. I fucked so many guys I lost count, sucked so many filthy, stinkin’ cocks, I made my mom look like a nun,” she slams her hand on the counter, “and still I never caught anything, not one STD, ironic isn’t it, fucking ironic. Then I got pregnant with her. Who the hell knows who the father was? And somewhere in my crack addled brain, I figured, I could keep her, raise her, change the past, and break the cycle.  Oh, I finally did get clean; I was clean the whole time I carried her.”

She slams down into a chair, still trembling; nothing is going to stop her, who knows how long she has kept all of this to herself, how deeply it tormented her while it was there. I know some of it. But there are large chunks missing, much of what she gave to me made very little sense. When the flashes came they were a jumble of emotions that wrapped around my heart like a vice and squeezed continually. We all thought she was the epitome of prim and proper.

Guess Matt is getting an education now.

Friday, August 19, 2016

‪#‎TheLostRoadtoHope‬ ‪#‎DontSurviveLive‬ ‪#‎Dreamcast‬

Chadwick Boseman as ‪#‎DrRickFoster

‪#‎wearebeggingyouamell‬ ‪#‎whynotamell‬ ‪#‎roadtoamell‬ ‪#‎doitfortheartamell‬

www.ronaldrossmannjr.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eD7Hd0R9bGk

From The Lost Road to Hope
Chapter 11: Confession without a chance of redemption

We arrived at the scene of the crime, the kid was right, what a mess. When we turned the corner into the room and immediately you could see her head, slumped down with long black hair, looked like she had just visited a beauty shop. Frank entered and kneeled by the tub digging into his bag of tricks. I slowly approached the tub to see the full scene. Her hands were in her lap, there was no water in the tub, just blood. She slit her wrists right below the palm, deep cuts, and the blood in the wounds had already coagulated.

Her hands were clenched into fists, facing up and together, the blade on the tub lip was covered in dried blood. Frank methodically placed all his tools neatly next to his bag; he is one of the most anal
people I have ever met. I continued to take in the scene, she is a beautiful woman, in her late thirties early forties, wearing a yellow summer dress, not warm enough for this type of weather. She had on yellow sandals and there was something in her left hand.

“Remember; don’t touch anything,” Frank commands.

“Got it,” I reply.

I bend over and can see a small beaded bracelet sticking out of the side of her fist. It looks like one of those baby bracelets. I look at her face; the pain from her death is frozen in her expression.

“It looks like she may have bled out completely,” I remark.

“We’ll see,”Frank replies and stands up, “okay detective let me do my thing and I’ll let you know my findings.”

I shake my head and begin to exit.

“What a shame, to have all this and give it up,” he comments, “I guess money really doesn’t buy happiness.”

Frank should really talk less.

I leave and head back down the stairs, meeting Malloy in the living room.

“Very sad,” he begins, “Guy came home to take the wife out for their anniversary and found her dead in the tub.”

I look over at the man, he is still sobbing intensely.

“She was there for a while, he thinks about an hour to an hour and a half,” he continues, “When he found her, he says he just fell to his knees, and leaned on the tub to check her pulse and confirm what was too true to deny.”

“Is that where the blood on his sleeves came from,” I ask?

“Seems so,” Malloy continues, “poor bastard, lost his son and his wife in the same year.”

Malloy’s comment doesn’t register right away.

“What,” I ask, after processing his statement!

“Yah, son died of cancer earlier this year. The husband wanted to try to do something special for his wife to bring back some normalcy to their lives,” Malloy explains, “Looks like he was too late.”

“The guys a cancer doctor,” I ask.

“Yea, a major player at the local hospital runs the entire cancer wing,” Malloy responds.

“Well, Frank is upstairs working with the deceased, you wanna head up there and check on him,” I ask.

“Nah, I know you guys are tight but he creeps me the hell out, I am going to call medic to have them check on the Doc, make sure he is physically alright.” Malloy flips his notepad closed and heads toward the front door, pulling out his cell “I hope I can get a signal.”

“Hey, was there any note,” I call out?

“No, just a text to the Doc,” Malloy responds without looking up from his phone, “it was real basic, it just said, something like, I’m sorry, I just couldn’t go on without him, I love you.”

Malloy exits and I heads back towards the doctor.

He is sitting up in the chair; the channels of his tears deeply stain his weary face. He looks over to me.

“She is the most beautiful woman in the world isn’t she,” he sobs.

I stop and stare at him.

How do I answer that?

Before I can speak one word he continues, “More beautiful than when we first met.” He looks at his sleeves and begins to roll them up, “this is all I have left of her now.”

For the first time, with all the bodies I had encountered, stories I had heard, and crime scenes I had processed, this one got to me.  Before it was all too mechanical, disconnected, it had to be, and if you weren’t numb to it you couldn’t do the job. Every case would haunt you, tear at you, and the weight of the dead and remains of the evil that men can do to each other would crush you. As a defensive mechanism, a survival necessity, you had to drown out all the emotion, and reduce everything and everyone down to facts, numbers, and evidence. In essence, you had to turn off your humanity.

I was good at it by now; after all I had served as close to hell as I ever wanted to be. I was a rock. Not this time, though, everything that man was feeling I began to feel with him, I couldn’t control it.
It hit a little too close to home, catching me off guard, and once it started, it couldn’t be stopped.

I slowly walked to him. I’ll never forget the look in his eyes, such loss, and pain. How was he even able to contain it?

“She was my everything,”his words felt like shards of glass tearing at my skin, “She gave me life.”

I stop in front of him.

“How does a man live when the best parts of him are torn away,” he asks?

He wasn’t making a statement; he was truly searching me for an answer and I had none.  All I could think about was Sara and Grace, and I broke the one commandment that every cop should never break, thou shalt not empathize. I was suddenly there, in his shoes, his very chair, the weight of his loss crushing my heart. I knelt down beside him.

What could I possibly say to ease his suffering?

“Death hunts its prey without mercy but I think it takes the most joy in the torment of those it leaves behind,” he whispers.

I am frozen; I can feel my eyes moisten. My heart beats faster and faster.

“How can I go on,” his question blasts through me like a mortar round, scorching a gaping hole in my center?

We just stare at each other. There is no answer that will provide the least amount of comfort.  Suddenly I feel a hand on my shoulder,

“C’mon Trevor, medic’s here, let’s let them check out the Doc,” Malloy quietly suggests.

I rise to my feet.

All speech has left me.

“Detective do you have a family,” The Doc asks ever so gently?

I struggle to answer and barely squeak out, “Yes.”

He pauses and takes the deepest and slowest breath I have ever witnessed.

“Never, ever, forget, without them, you are just a man alone,” he instructs.

“You’re not alone, Doc,you’re not,” it’s all I can muster as any kind of condolence.

“We are all alone, no matter how hard we try to escape it, it always finds us,” he quickly answers.

He turns from me and finishes rolling up his sleeves.

“C’mon pal,” Malloy pulls me away as the medics brush past us.

I back out without taking my eyes off of him. Never in my life have I seen such a state of desolation and utter loss. Even compared to Boone’s death, this seemed to define all that is tragic. We left the house and the ride back to the station was absolute silence.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

‪#‎TheLostRoadtoHope‬ ‪#‎DontSurviveLive‬ ‪#‎Dreamcast‬

‪Chloe Grace Mortez as ‪#‎KaylaYoung

‪#‎wearebeggingyouamell‬ ‪#‎whynotamell‬ ‪#‎roadtoamell‬ ‪#‎doitfortheartamell‬

www.ronaldrossmannjr.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eD7Hd0R9bGk

From The Lost Road to Hope
Chapter 2: Pretty in Pink

What a douche!

I act like I am reading but I want to get up and smack the shit out of him.

What a fucking jerk!

Like his life is any worse than mine. I slam the magazine on the chair, fold my arms, and glance up at the TV. Great all they show here is FOX News, like they need to add insult to injury.

“In other news, another suspicious suicide in a small, rural Mexican town, the details when we return,” the closed captioning scrolls across the bottom of the screen.

They muted the volume again. I guess they don’t want to disturb us sickly freaks as we wallow in our misery. They could have least ponied up and got some new magazines. Lord knows they make enough here nursing us sick freaks.

I look up at the clock at the wall. They’re not coming, again. Why would they, after I unloaded on them like I did. She just had to nitpick again, trying too hard to be the mother she never will be. She is still upset that she got stuck with the cancer kid, a little too much than she bargained for.

What a bitch!

I know it’s the new, big, hip, thing to show how wonderfully selfless you are by taking in troubled kids. But heaven forbid, not one who is terminal. God, I hate her, with her perfectly poofed, died blonde hair.  She thinks she’s a real fashionista. I wonder what her desperate housewife friends would think about all of her trips to Wally World.

Just another fucking wannabe!

And don’t get me started about her robotic, ball less husband, I bet she keeps’ em in her imitation Gucci purse.  I look back at the TV as the captions continue to scroll.

“The seventh alleged suicide in as many days occurred in a small rural village deep in Mexico. Another individual was discovered, this time, the result of a single gunshot wound to the head.”

What’s this trash about?

The words continue to spew across the screen.

“Authorities believe the deaths may be related, neighbors and family of the deceased report the same strange behavior prior to the suicide that was eerily similar to that which was exhibited by the other victims. In this most current death, the male victim whose name has still has not been released, told anyone who would listen about seeing strange creatures at night that tried to attack him on several occasions, appearing out of nowhere and then disappearing just as quickly.”

Couldn’t be drug related could it, I mean not that Mexico’s known for that type of thing.

“The prior victims also allegedly conveyed similar comments. Some accounts told in even greater detail and even providing illustrations of the alleged creatures.”

Enough of this shit!

I pick up another magazine.

Nah!

I fumble around in my pockets.

Where the hell is my iPhone?

Not in there, instead I find an old brush.

Won’t be needing that anymore!

I fling it at the trash can. It misses and ricochets off the wall.

Whatever!

Where the hell is it?

I continue to search. She had to pick a fight right as I woke up today! She knows how I get every time I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror first thing in the morning. I get to start every day with this
thing I have become starring back at me.

What the hell is wrong with her?

Is she that clueless?

It’s not here!

Damn, I forgot it again.

I hate this stupid sweat suit.

I hate pink.

I look like a big bottle of Pepto.

But this is all she could find in my size, she says.

Such bullshit!

Why in the world would I trust her fashion sense, I see the disaster that it is on her every day.

“You look so pretty, baby,” she tells me before we leave.

Yah and you must be stoned bitch!

When you drink as much as she does, your judgment is a bit impaired. But if I was married to ball less I would drink constantly too. If I woke up every morning being her I would hit something harder. I then realize my body language is not as private as I thought it might be. Everyone in the lobby is staring at me.

Oh well!

My face must be red as all out. Maybe it will distract everyone from this fucking stupid flamingo suit. He’s glaring at me again, that Jackass.

You guys want to stare at me!

Huh!

You want something to really look at?

I rip of my bandanna so my melon can shine brightly under the fluorescents. Take a look freaks, behold the bald, pink, princess of cancer kingdom and go straight to hell!

“Ms. Young,” the nurse sighs as she stands before me.

Damn she’s getting’ quicker!

“Now let’s stop that and settle down, the doctor is almost ready to see you,” she ever so gently corrects.

What a patronizing bitch!

She smiles at me making the desire to slap her almost unbearable.

“Yes madam,” I concede as I flash her my infamously plastic smile. “Sorry about that, must be a mix of the pain killers and anti depressants acting up again.”

She can easily sense my thick, relentless sarcasm and insincerity but she doesn’t miss a beat.

“Well dear that may be true but we can’t have you disturbing the other guests,” she says sternly but patiently.

What is she, fucking Mary Poppins!

These people are not guests, were fucking patients. No make that dead men walking.

You fucking plastic android!

That’s what I want to say, but what came out was something like, yes madam I apologize or okay, thank you, some shit like that. What’s the use of standing up anymore for anything? Who would care, or remember?  She walks away.

The others have stopped starring and have returned to their own wallowing. Maybe they think if they act like I’m invisible, I will just go away. Yah, good luck with that, idiots! I’m as real as it gets, beauty slowly transforming into decaying beast. I don’t know what hurts more the pain or the anger.

There’s that stupid guy again and he’s still starring. As much as I want to kick him in crotch until he can taste his testies I have to respect him. At least he has the courage not to look away. Maybe he
actually gets it or maybe he’s just a mega freak.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

#TheLostRoadtoHope #DontSurviveLive #Dreamcast

Stephen Amell as #AlexTrevor

#wearebeggingyouamell #whynotamell #roadtoamell  #doitfortheartamell

www.ronaldrossmannjr.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eD7Hd0R9bGk

From The Lost Road to Hope
Chapter 1: The Long Road

This had to be the longest drive and yet the distance was the same. The hum of traffic seemed so lonely today and the overcast sky only added to that. It was one of those days that no matter what song played on my satellite radio it irritated me.

How did it come to this?

The thought bolted through my mind before I could catch it.

I was going to be strong, just like I always was.

This was not going to drown me!

I had survived Afghanistan; there was no way that this was going to destroy my resolve. I glance over to my right at the letter sitting in the passenger’s seat lying face down but knowing its contents all too well. I had just received it from the clinic, dates, times, procedures, what to eat before, what to expect after. It was all so mechanical, like reading the instructions to installing a Blu-Ray player. There was no humanity to it, so cold and inorganic, summing up my existence into simple bullet points and prescriptions. It was nobody’s fault, it’s just the way things were, the simple reality of the matter. Everything I had worked for and achieved was suddenly void and my future reduced to one sheet of paper.

I have to stop myself, pull it together, I am stronger than this.

On top of the now ominous letter is a picture of my wife and daughter.  Gracie had just turned six this year. They still don’t know.  My wife has been through so much already, my tour of duty, the academy, all the long nights worrying whether or not I would come home. She has been the real hero in all of this. I often asked myself why she stayed; a question I could never bring myself to ask her.

I had the courage to face every enemy, knowing in a second it could be lights out.  Bullets had flown by me like mad hornets on a tear. Blood, flame, the horrors of combat, had surrounded me before, sometimes on a daily basis, but with all that, I never winced, hesitated, not for a second. But to lose her, that’s the only thing I truly ever feared.

And then when Gracie was born, it felt like every broken piece of my life suddenly fit together. She became the end all, be all, of school, her graduation, prom, of my existence with everything else dropping down to the bottom of the list of my life. She was the very breath in my lungs. Everything in life that didn’t make sense before made sense now in the beauty of her delicate smile. I had been blessed far more than I ever deserved and I got that.

I promised Sara, this would be it. A couple more years on the force and then I find some senseless desk job, work security at the mall, sell cars, whatever, just to give her some peace, a night where she could finally sleep not fearing what news the next day would bring. It was all about her and Gracie now, and they had earned that level of importance, a thousand times over. With all that said, now this happens. As if it was some tragic cosmic punch line to a universally bad joke.

The pain started just a few short months ago. I figured I just pulled something, a symptom of getting older and forgetting my limits, stress maybe, an old sports injury rearing its ugly head before the dawn of a mid life crisis. Through two tours and constant fire fights, I never saw a scratch, not even a hangnail.

They called me the Ghost!

Bullets never could seem to find me, the enemy never saw me coming. I could navigate through kill houses so quickly it was if I moved through the walls not around them. I saw friends of mine lose limbs, eyes, worse, and yet I was the one who was always made it out alive, always able to escape the physical price of combat. But never the scars of seeing others you would die for fall.

With all that said, here I am.

It figures, one stone took Goliath down and he never saw that
coming either.

The pain got worse, so I finally went to the VA and got checked out. That prompted more tests and more visits. I never told Sara, I always used excuses, some new training detail, an advanced class in forensics, anything that I could sell her that she might believe. I just couldn’t bring myself to put her through something else. I’m supposed to be her strength, her provider, not a constant source of bad news.

When the final barrage of tests did finally come back it was definitive, prostate cancer. You know what the funniest part of it was, it wasn’t because of chemicals or agents from my time in the service, or what independently self prescribed pharmaceuticals I introduced to my body during my infamous college years, the wrong diet, or even hereditary. I just was lucky enough to pull the “one in whatever many chances card.”

There was no rhyme or reason, it was just there. And now we get to this final letter. Here’s how my treatment begins. At least a year of chemo and radiation, special diet, possible surgery, loss of my ability to be intimate with my wife, no more kids, and with all of that I might live long enough to be in enough pain and depression that I would I wish I never started it all to begin with.

I mean what the hell!

Now my wife has to take care of me. Now she loses all the time and attention she has been so patiently waiting for to care for a husband who probably won’t see his daughter turn eight, maybe even seven.

Who makes the rules here?

I did my time, served my country, truly love my wife. While the other guys were out dicking around, fucking anything that had a pulse, I stayed back at the barracks trying to keep up with the life I left a thousand or more miles away. Now as a detective, an honest cop, a dying breed, naively trying to uphold the law, serve the idea of justice. I’ve tried to be a good man, not the best, but nowhere near the worst.

I’ve buried so many friends, lost so much time, and now you tell me it’s up. No break, no honeymoon, just thanks for your service and sacrifice son, now we have to punch your ticket. To be robbed of even the chance to go out like a hero, with a bang, a selflessly brave act, or triumphant charge to victory.

No, instead I leave this world with a whimper decaying in front of everyone I love. Become a shell of a man while my wife and daughter are left to helplessly watch and pick up the pieces. Forced to miss out on all the good stuff, Gracie’s first years of school, her graduation, prom, and dance with her father at her wedding.  To have my wife struggle to survive, having missed out the life she could have had, had she not hitched her wagon to my sorry cart.

What have I done?

I have ruined their futures, tainted their happiness, and will forever darken their memories.

Dammitt!

Breathe Alex, just breathe!

Monday, August 15, 2016

‪#‎TheCrux‬ ‪#‎Sciencefiction‬ you deserve ‪#‎Dreamcast‬

Ron Perlman as ‪#‎Slaughter‬

www.thecruxseries.com

From The Crux
Chapter 9: Grace, Fate, and Fear

It is Slaughter who led the rancorous assault against her home world resulting in the gruesome deaths of the entirety of her people. I know she spent too many lifetimes quelling all of the grief and terror of that fateful day. Her only comfort was knowing that his legions were ultimately, completely destroyed.

Before his armor was installed, Slaughter was a far less fierce humanoid.  An elegant angelic figure outlined by starlight with a hollow form sharing few recognizable details. His anatomy, like those of his brethren, was simple, shaped in the casings of mortal men but without its feeble organic nature. It was composed entirely of the energies that propel the Firmamentia’s continual evolution and faceted from the very remnants of its genesis. They were organized and tightly woven within their cast as to provide power unmatched by their foes.

The Vindicators, as a collective, were fashioned to be the cosmos’ ultimate defenders, with the utmost in confidence to accomplish such by their supreme crafters.  Then to ensure their victories would exceed contestation, they were given armaments forged in the same bowels of space where the galaxies were conceived. Each Vindicator was given equal protection but one. A leader was determined, blessed by the Elders, chosen because of his brilliance, agility, and cunning.

The general was given an extraordinary gift, a suit of armor and weapons designed by Reality modeled after and from the very essences of the spirit and elements of war. Greaves and bracers riddled with razor sharp horn-like spikes dipped and anointed in the blood of fallen Elders. Faulds, breastplate, and spaulders forged in the fires of the bleakest star with impenetrable chain mail, fastened together as close as air, concealed within. A belt fashioned from the same steel that forms around the molten core of the harshest planet.  It was finished with a horned helmet retrieved from an existence far separated from our universe once belonging to an ancient tribe of warriors whose mere appearance eventually birthed the fiercest concepts of feral life in the Fleshworld.

The weapons bestowed upon this marvelously ominous commander were a large, cumbersome flail and immense baneful mace. The flail’s ball and chain were capable of reaching any foe, as it possessed the power to extend in range at the mere thought of its master. Its crushing blow savagely toppled entire front lines of opponents with a single stroke, reduced bone, stone, and steel to shrapnel and ash in a brutal instant. The mace’s long onyx crystalline handled derived from compacted minerals that articulate the most stringently composed comet. Its spiked ball as large as a giant’s torso tore flesh like wet paper and shred muscle as if brittle autumn leaves.

Defining intimidation and despair, the general first called himself Requiem, as in death’s hymn, but as his blood-soaked, corpse laden, hate saturated campaigns lingered he took the name Slaughter. It is unknown if the armor first corrupted him or the reverse. Despite his already direful appearance, his corruption manifested itself into a far more apocalyptic emergence.  The membranes of his once graceful wings decayed leaving only a skeletal framework that he dipped in vats of unexplained, indestructible metals and stained them with the blood of the innocents he had viciously trampled upon.

His entire form became darkness as he grew in impressive size and stature, towering high above even the mightiest foe. Eyes as red as hellfire penetrated the smoke and flame of the ruination he smote upon his hapless, hopeless prey. He became evil personified, in all of its definition, barbarity, and remorselessness.

The legend tells that he was destroyed and dissolved in the mysterious incinerators of the Controller. Apparently that is where fact becomes legend, and legend persists when truth becomes an annoying distraction.  All myth and legend have foundations in sincerity, but when we need our heroes and fantasies to prolong, integrity is so readily sacrificed to protect our selfish and pretentious denials. Where lies are told in the moment, fables are designed with longevity to defy time and memory.

But why would he keep the armor?

What purpose could that serve other than the concentrated darkness and evil that artifact affords?

It would be unimaginably foolish to take the chance that it could be used for its hellish purposes again.

Friday, August 12, 2016

#‎TheCrux‬ ‪#‎Sciencefiction‬ you deserve ‪#‎Dreamcast‬

Kylie Bunbury as ‪#Vanity‬

www.thecruxseries.com

From The Crux
Chapter 7: Vanity, Shadow, & Flame

“Etheria and a felon named Vanity, who was deliberately released for just such an occasion,” she answers.

“Never heard of her,” I admit.

“No, I am sure you haven’t,” she assures. “She was here long before your arrival. In fact, Vanity has been around since the early empires of the mortal world, part of a collective known as the Voyagers. They were commissioned to covertly and periodically visit the Fleshworld and report on the progress of their cultures and civilizations. There were eleven of them, varying species, some alien, others were Citizens. Instead of fulfilling their duties they chose to use their unique and miraculous powers to influence those civilizations and did so, unmolested, for some time.”

“How could they have done that without the Controller catching on?” I immediately question.

“That is the third question I cannot answer,” she admits. “The prevalent theory is that Fate allowed it as some sort of experiment and kept the Controller in the dark.”

“It seems our flawless padrone isn’t so immaculate, after all,” I snide.

“He does have an Achilles heel when it comes to his dealings with the mysterious and inauspicious lady of kismet,” she playfully concurs.  “All the hieroglyphs depicting hybrid deities, fabled mythologies of impish, arrogant divinity, and ancient chronicles of alien creators emanated from their antics and meddling. In the process, they interminably defined an impressive gauntlet of mortal history, not to mention, spawned faulty religions and ever evolving conspiracies. The damage had been so extensive and ingrained that the Controller forewent repairing it as the cure for their deceptive disease would be more debilitating than the ailment itself. I assume that is what he convinced himself of anyway.”

“So was there a consequence for their actions?” I inquire.

“Yes,” she journeys on. “Fate abandoned them as the Controller acted acutely and expeditiously, rounding up the charlatans. When Vanity realized she had been betrayed, she exterminated her cohorts and attempted to escape. You see, Miss Vanity’s skill is a unique one. She is able to steal the energy of a being’s life matrix with a single touch, expiring the poor soul, and turning their defunct corpse into solid stone. For Citizens, she is able to drain their energies and store them. She can use them to mimic her victims’ abilities, enhance her own, or transfer them to another Citizen
to make them even more powerful. It is called Exchanging and she is the only being who possess its frightening attributes. The Controller assured that after her imprisonment. If any Citizen even exhibits a slight perchance of such a gift he instantaneously and remorselessly expires them.”

“Using the ArgaMax I assume,” I conjecture.

“Absolutely right!” She gleefully praises providing me a brief, maniacal applause. “You have been listening! I must say, I was worried, as I have covered a good bit of ground.”

“Covered a good bit, huh,” I interrupt. “That may be the understatement of the millennium!”

“But there is so much more!” she gleefully shrills. “Vanity was imprisoned; a request by Fate herself, for our Controller, was, again, unaware of her complicity. Fate convinced him that she wanted to study her so she might provide an understanding of her bizarre powers to assist them in identifying any future threats. He agreed with her logic, he had no reason to doubt her.”

“So he let her out to punish Kalos?” I puzzle.

“At Fate’s recommendation, as the story goes,” her tale ensues. “To rob him of his Shadow Force without expiring him and her deadly beauty made it an easy chore.”

“Why, what does she look like?” I press.

“She is a true chameleon,” she playfully explains, her bizarre ecstasy deeply concerning.

Is she losing her grip as we go on? Are we moving steadily away from fact into the realms of her own, internalized distorted fantasies? I have to take each statement with a grain of salt, but if she starts to shift into dementia, it will become pounds per sentence.

“She can change based on her agenda,” she eagerly describes. “When she wishes to seduce the foolish lusts of mortal men, and women, she becomes the embodiment of all they think they desire. She is the personification of passion, able to transform herself in a fraction of the blink of any eye, cloaking the reality of her hellish true identity. A living she-demon, her actuality is humanoid, but far more unfamiliar and terrifying. Long flowing golden locks absurdly contradict the coarse sharp serpentine scales that make up her epidermis. Her pupil-less eyes burn blood red perfectly matched against her crimson lips, concealing rows of jagged, barbed teeth. Claw like hands accentuated with talon-like nails can effortlessly tear at flesh and muscle. She carries a protracted whip as her weapon of choice, wrapped in the hides of her most prized sufferers, the frays of its tips grasping an array of fang and bone. Her only companion is a psychic python that manifests itself at her whim and then dissolves just as quickly into an unknown void to await her next command. That is the creature called Vanity, aptly named as she is the archetype and punishment of its iniquity.”

“Well, now we know where those legends come from,” I jest. “Does the snake hide in her hair or did the mortals just reinvent and distort that one too?”

“An unfortunate consistency when Citizens visibly interact with the Fleshworld,” she concedes. “The mortal minds’ way of interpreting the horrors and wonders they are incapable of understanding with such limited perspective and experience.”

“So now that I know she’ll never make Playboys Ladies of the Crux, I have to ask, how the hell did she assist the Fate and Reeperella in stealing Kalos’ shadow?”

“Simple!” She reveals. “She did what she does best; she carefully and conclusively seduced him. They met by design, unbeknownst to him, and had a whirlwind passion filled courtship that had him thoroughly engrossed in her irresistible enticements. Then she led him into a trap where he was ambushed by Etheria. While they battled, she unveiled her proper self and snatched his shadow away before he could counter. Then Etheria easily subdued him, apprehending him in the name of the Fate. He was cast into the most remote cell while his shadow was placed in a small, inescapable, and featureless chest manufactured from the same divine materials that contain the Construct’s energy to assure it would never escape. For you see, no matter how far you divide a Shadow Master from his spectral companion, they are connected, and able to communicate and function. They will reunite no matter what manner of obstacle you insert between their paths. So, the connection had to be fully broken, not via space and time, but everlasting confinement.”

“Where is the box now?” I query.

“Locked away deep inside the Controller’s vault,” she quickly identifies.

“Where, I assume, no one knows about or can access it?” I press.

“That is correct,” she affirms. “There are things in that place that represent the greatest achievements of creation, and the darkest and vilest evil that was used to attempt its extinction.”

‪#‎TheCrux‬ ‪#‎Sciencefiction‬ you deserve ‪#‎Dreamcast‬

Jada Pinkett Smith as ‪#‎Felicity‬

www.thecruxseries.com

From The Crux
Chapter 21: In Hot Water

“And who is this Felicity?” Penance adds.

“She is a Werebeing, an ancient species of Manitou,” I explain. “They were brought here by the Elementals to be used as guardians, cosmic bodyguards from a remote realm. Most died in the Elemental Wars, used for combat in their true beast form. The rest fled to the Fleshworld to escape the bondage of their oppressors after the conflict had ended. The mere handful that remain are living in immortal seclusion in the outlying forest and mountainous regions of the earth. They are almost all male, so
breeding has been forfeited. The only female is Felicity, and she, at first, returned to the Crux, to exact revenge against her Elemental oppressors. I was the one that discovered her plan and enacted her arrest. She did a decade in the Super Max and another one in the complex we laid waste to.”

“Now she’s a Marshall!” Penance gasps.

“Yes, as inconceivable and irrational as that may sound,” I affirm.

“And the reason for that is…” Penance presses.

“I befriended her during her time served,” I elaborate. “Her entire subspecies was wiped out by the Shadow Masters while serving as warriors for the Stone Masters. They were battle cats, huge predatory felines, up to twenty feet long and wearing a ton or more of bone, muscle, and fur. The Stone Masters actually rode them into battle. They are so powerful their claws can slice through marble like it is soft serve left out in the sun. One bite can crush steel as if it was dried leaves. They can leap up to fifty feet in lengths and height. So, you can imagine a line of these creatures charging forward like some nightmarish cavalry can be incredibly intimidating and disarming even for the most ruthless and seasoned of infantries. The Shadow Masters had ensnared and subjugated their own Werebeasts, equally as ferocious and barbaric and when these monsters met the carnage was unspeakable. In the end, their corpses layered the battlefield almost three high as far as the eyes could see. The flowing blood from their splayed veins created small ponds and lakes that stagnated with the stench of death and despair in the aftermath of the conflict. Felicity, the youngest of her pride, was the only one to limp away from the havoc.”

“So how did she enact her revenge?” Penance interrupts. “Who was her target?”

“Kalos, of course,” I quickly answer, “and she damn near killed him when she finally caught up with him without even Werebeasting out.” “I found out about her plan from an informant and got there just in time. Come to think of it, that was Sasha’s first real assignment as well.”

“Why didn’t you just let her rip his worthless throat out?” Penance scoffs.

“Because she didn’t have permission to, that’s why,” I retort. “It was an unauthorized assault, unqualified attempted murder and she wasn’t ashamed of it. In fact, she proclaimed it loudly during the trial proceedings. Her defense consisted only of the regret she had in her inability to finish him off. It was then I realized that this chick had spunk.”

“Spunk!” Feast chides.

“We all have a bit of the beast in us, you and Penance of all people, should know that.” I proceed. “Felicity literally has a full serving in her belly. In fact, she was more comfortable in her wild form than as a humanoid hybrid, remaining utterly feral for half of her term. Her sense of justice and inhuman strength and agility intrigued me; it made her a perfect candidate for Marshall, especially against some of the baddies we face. So I convinced the Controller, through Grace, of course, to give me the opportunity to rehabilitate her. He reluctantly gave me a limited amount of time, and with any and all resources I could muster spent every nanosecond of it trying to help her. It was a long, arduous, and frustrating journey. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to throw my hands up and quit but I stuck with her and my persistence and her patience finally paid off. She began to find her humanity and a determined focus, renewed purpose, something other than cleaning her claws with Kalos’ stripped flesh.”

“After time served, I gave her a job, administrative at first, and then she slowly moved up to the minor crimes division. She proved her quality time and time again but remained on probation because of the fear that she might give into the beast, even though there was no recent evidence to indicate it. She is a Cracker Jack investigator, with an amazingly complex mind, a genuine ability to think abstractly. Not to mention, her phenomenal sensory aptitudes make her an unequaled tracker. When things get hairy, pardon the pun, she can “get her cat on” and wipe out whatever is in her way, be it opponent or obstacle.”

“Is she in league with Dugan?” Penance challenges.

“There isn’t a corruptible bone in her caracal body!” I adamantly object. “I would stake my life on it. I put my reputation and freedom on the line for her from the start, and I have no intention of revoking it now!”

“Alright, relax Ronin,” Penance recoils, “I just never took you for much of a cat lover!” “You strike me as more of a dog person!”

Thursday, August 11, 2016

‪#‎TheCrux‬ ‪#‎Sciencefiction‬ you deserve ‪#‎Dreamcast‬

‪Helen Slater as #Seamstress www.thecruxseries.com From The Crux Chapter 2: The Unusual Suspects “I am asking if you know of any candidates that might be Level 5s but are unaware of their latent abilities,” she continues unaffected by my surly response. “I have some suspicions, but not enough evidence to act,” I answer. “Well, you already have forgotten one,” she reveals as she points to a familiar portrait haunting the crowd of others. “Don’t worry about her either!” I abruptly correct. “Why, don’t tell me you would defend her like you defend your friend Feast!” She replies in sudden bewilderment. “No, there is no defense to justify anything she has done!” I scoff removing my hat again, vigorously rubbing my forehead. “She is a real monster! I still am shocked as shit that you and your boss allowed her to continue to exist at all.” There is sudden silence on the part of the interviewer. Didn’t think she had a rabbit punch response to that one. This particular case is that proverbial black eye for her and her master. “She is a recluse, catatonic most of the time, locked away in her little cubby of a home,” I continue. “She shows no signs of emerging anytime soon.” “Who is she talking about?” Sasha quietly interrupts. “The Seamstress,” I answer, motioning her again to be still. I am really going to pay for that one. I can almost feel it now. I hope I have enough Advil and Bengay in the ole’ medicine cabinet. “The Seamstress?” Sasha puzzles evidently immune to my hackneyed hand signals. “She’s a Level 5?” “Unfortunately, yes!” I lean back into my chair to conceal our conversation as the Navigator thoroughly reviews her files. “I never knew that, why would I not know that?” Sasha questions. “Very few do, and there is a good reason for it,” I respond. “It was long before you got here. She is one of the only hidden Level 5s in the entire place. Her powers are unique to her and her alone; no one that I know of has ever shared her abilities.” The Navigator looks right at us. Well so much for concealment! I know she has heard everything. I have never gotten anything past her and it’s not for a lack of trying either. “Isn’t that right Madam Navigator?” “He is correct!” She smugly agrees. “We only found out about the full scope of her particularly gory skill set when she was apprehended,” I explain. “She was one of the few to fly under our radar as long as she did.” “Isn’t she just a run of the mill serial killer?” Sasha inquires, directing her questions to the two of us. “I wish it was as simple as that,” I correct. “She was a top notch surgeon in the Fleshworld whose only daughter, a young child, was violently murdered. The suspects were never found and there was evidence that there may have been some weird conspiracy or cover up. It only took a few months for her to go ruthlessly insane. Then she began an epic killing spree, brutally slaughtering her victims, carefully chopping them up into useable parts.” “What do you mean, usable parts,” Sasha gasps, “usable for what?” “To sew them together to create living dolls, well the term living here would be used loosely,” I answer, “hence, the whole Seamstress thing.” “Why?” Sasha gulps. Now Sasha is not one to display anxiety in any situation. So her reaction was a bit disarming. I definitely struck an untouched nerve. “To replace her offspring,” I continue undeterred. “To manufacture a terrifyingly warped family that she could love, protect, and control. Most of her victims were Fleshworld criminals. She somehow was able to sense their motives before they even acted upon them. Know when and where they would commit their heinous acts. She hunted them down, stalked them for weeks at a time, and then mercilessly striking. These were no minor leaguers. Most were killers, rapists, all manner of predators, so you have to give her props for taking them out and saving the taxpayers a few bucks. By the time, we finally caught her she had murdered seventy-five, and that was just in the Fleshworld.” “Well, how many more were there?” Sasha asks a hint of tension still evident in her voice. “One hundred and twenty,” I reluctantly answer, “the only Citizen, who has been able to terminate Crux beings without permission or resources from the Controller. She is also the only Citizen to demonstrate the power of resurrection; an ability thought impossible to posses. To add to that, she was also our very first successful Shifter, able to cross dimensions without a Bridge, by sheer will alone. Those remarkable gifts are the reason we know about blackouts and the psychic energy required to create them. Seeing how she was the one to introduce us to them. In the end, she spent two centuries in an isolated cell until her sentence was completed. Now she is religiously monitored moment by moment.” “Was she successful?” Sasha questions. “I mean in bringing the dolls she made to life?” “Only once,” the Navigator interjects, “and while we are on this unpleasant subject, where is Dolly?”

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

#TheCrux #Sciencefiction you deserve #Dreamcast

Britney Spears as #Wilt www.thecruxseries.com From The Crux Chapter 16: Wilt Thou Goest “She’s a wee too busy working with her new BFF,” Wilt’s austral twang becoming more pronounced with each word. “I am the last man on the totem pole right now.” “So she is working for Fate,” Sasha interjects. “Yeah, you can call it that if you want,” Wilt meridionally snickers. “Then where is she?” I demand. “That’s what I have been trying to explain to your tarts here,” Wilt banefully chides. “You have done no such thing!” Feast scolds. “Maybe not, I really can’t recall,” Wilt grimly purrs. She stretches purposefully, her tunic rises exposing the sides of her withered breasts. Cracking her neck in the process, she notices the intensity of my gaze and a warped smile curls across her face. “Like what you see there Marshall,” she seductively proposes, “I’d love to show you more.” “Tell me this, have you ever wanted to taste the juices of decay?” “I think I threw up in my mouth a little,” Sasha glibly remarks. Wilt pays no attention to her sarcasm and disgust. She begins to cat crawl to me, but it’s immediately refuted by Penance. Within seconds, the edge of her retractable blade rests perilously against her throat. “Good thing your gal pals have your back,” Wilt sinisterly flirts, “or I would have made you drown in them.” Penance pulls her close to her waist, the blade imprinting upon her crusty husk like flesh. “Try that again princess and we will find out just how immortal you are!"
“Stand down, Penance,” I order. “I am not worried about her. She can’t do any damage here.”
“Are you so sure?” Wilt snarls. Before she can blink, the muzzle of my Colt is pressed firmly in the center of her forehead. “You can damn well count on it, freak!” Wilt tenses for a moment, but it is short-lived, and she suddenly coos in adulation. “Oh Marshall,” she begins, “how you do have a way with the ladies.” “I am probably not the first to have the pleasure of your gun in their face…hmmmm. Funny, I thought it would be bigger but I bet you get that a lot don’t you.” “Pulling this trigger is as easy as breathing,” I growl. “Then you wouldn’t know all the dirty little secrets I have on my dearest sis,” she hisses again, “and they too are so very juicy.” “Would that even kill her?” Sasha remarks. “I vote to find out!” Penance announces as she presses the blade against Wilt’s throat. “Then why would y’ all bring me here at all?” Wilt strains. “Relax Penance, will play her game,” I concede, holstering my pistol, “for now!” “So spill it Wilt, or I’ll let Penance spill whatever the hell you call blood!” I motion to Penance to relax her stance. “Fine, you’re just no fun at all,” Wilt rubs her larynx as Penance regresses but remains close. I just noticed Dolly is nowhere to be found. “Where is your sister?” I demand. “Your girl Penance knows,” Wilt grumbles still nursing her throat. “What, what game are you playing now?” Penance growls. “Relax Tinkerhell!” Wilt gruffly replies. “I just mean she is hiding out in one of your old stomping grounds,” Funny I thought that whole Tinkerhell thing was Sasha’s. “Where would that be?” I continue unabated. “The Illuminaire Chamber?” Penance quips. “The what?” Sasha gasps. “It is the birthplace of the Illuminaires,” Penance explains. “I thought the unnamed Elder shut that place down after he gave your reprieves,” I interject. “He did,” Penance turns to me, “but that would not alter its structure.” “And that means?” I press. “The Chamber is designed with the same elements as Oblivion,” Penance reveals. “It was constructed to ensure that nothing can escape. Fate wanted to ensure she had complete control over the Illuminaires during their creation and evolution. She knew there was an inherent risk fashioning them with potentially volatile human emotions and could not afford a rebellion within the Crux that would have exposed her unauthorized experimentations. To leave, one must be let out; it’s the only exodus available.” “The second Oblivion that Kalos went on about,” Sasha adds. “That is where she is squatting now,” Wilt admits. “She has been there since this whole thing started.” “That hasn’t been too long,” Sasha comments. “It has in the Fleshworld,” Wilt grimly confesses. “After the incident, she hasn’t escorted a single soul to Oblivion, let alone call on my services. Right now, death is utterly absent from the mortal plane. So you can imagine what a mess that has caused.” “Not if she turns them all to Dopples,” Sasha interjects. “Dopples, what the hell are Dopples?” Feast chimes in. “We’ll cover that in a moment,” I insert. “The chick is right though,” Wilt hauntingly chuckles, “there is no need for her former duties now.” “How does the Controller not know this?” Sasha vehemently sighs. “Would you be so kind as to let us in on what the hell you are talking about?” Penance scolds. “It’s a long story,” I quickly deflect, “you’re just going to have to trust us for now and try to keep up.” “Unacceptable!” Feast steps in again. “Okay babes, here it is in a nutshell, told in the simplest terms, so even you two can understand it,” Wilt interrupts, “Fate turned all the Didymus into Doppelgangers but failed to do the same to their Crux counterparts. That is why you can’t find them. They ain’t dead; they’re being corralled in the Luminarie Chamber until she is ready to unleash them in the Fleshworld. She had this Teleporter transport them all there after they were changed. Now she needs Vanity to finish her plan so she can take over the Construct, overthrow the Controller, and build an unstoppable army to invade and occupy all of the Firmamentia. Everybody on the same page now…y’all good!” Penance and Feast are expressionless. Clockwork remains silent, as he has done for much of the conversation. That is not the way I wanted to bring them up to speed but what’s done is done. “What she said,” I annoyingly sigh. “I don’t know what to say,” Feast finally expresses. “Then say nothing and let the big people talk…Kay,” Wilt mocks. Feast’s face tightens, as her jagged fangs slide past her ruby lips. I have to press on, we need the information fast and I will only have one chance at this. I can’t risk Wilt clamming up. “Ladies, you gotta give me this one,” I plead, “we don’t have the time right now to go over this right now!” “Agreed, but under duress,” Feast reluctantly complies.

Monday, August 8, 2016

‪#‎TheCrux‬ ‪#‎Sciencefiction‬ you deserve ‪#‎Dreamcast‬

Winona Ryder as ‪#Etheria‬

www.thecruxseries.com

From The Crux
Chapter 16: Wilt Thou Goest

Etheria wasn’t much of an improvement over her sib. She had always been a spoiled brat. Mommy and daddy gave her anything her little heart desired while poor persecuted sis made due with the leftovers. She manipulated and coerced her friends and relations to do her bidding with any hint of refusal resulting in relentlessness ridicule and retaliation. No one could exact the impressively precise emotional torment than she could.

Her popularity forged through fear and intimidation, with no one impervious to her intensive mocking, vile practical jokes, and churlish spite.  Her legend spread like a wildfire through a paper mill leaving a wake of victims with singed and scorched psyches.

                                        Now, one might say her ire was the result of her tragic loss.

                                        And one would be wrong as hell.

                                        Etheria was corrupted long before her meal tickets were taken away through death. She was a terror as a child, who quickly graduated to an abusive teenager, teetering on the edge of becoming a contemptible adult.  It is an idea that seems insensitive and irresponsible unless you know how Fate truly works and realize that the conveniences and comforts of coincidence, fortune, and chance are merely blissful ignorance to the architecture of the cosmos and the coming and goings of its managers.

                                        It was the eve of her twenty-first birthdays when she encountered Fate’s direst minion. You see Etheria, on top of everything else; had quite the affection for testing limits, daring death to any competition, to prove her deranged and illiterate sense of superiority. It was the way she mourned the abrupt loss of her parents, a grief-stricken death wish that refused to be satiated until it provided a lethal answer. She had injured countless friendships both literally and emotionally in her ominous quest to best the grimmest of reapers. All considered collateral damage in her mind, a necessary and unfortunate product in her pursuit of the mastery of the fear of finality.

                                       She never really connected with any of them anyway. After all, she knew that her spectral nemesis could steal them away as carelessly and remorselessly as he did her mother and father. It was her umpteenth attempt at this futile usurpation that she finally met the winged executioner headlong.

                                       If you haven’t guessed yet, her opponent was Penance, death’s most current personification.

                                      Etheria resisted her nomination, but rather than flee, she accosted Penance and fruitlessly demanded that she battle her. She invoked a duel and proposed the winner receive a reward and the loser her tortured inevitability.  The trophy Etheria sought, was the return of her parents,delivered free of the effects and decorations of death. Fate watched from her distance, both amused and intrigued at her obstinacy and boldness.  She sent psychic word to her harbinger that the terms had been accepted.

                                      Etheria ran to the family barn where her sister lay asleep in a pile of hay.  There she retrieved a scythe used for the gathering of wheat as her weapon of choice and swiftly returned to the field to face her foe.  Penance impatiently waited for her, deeply annoyed by the frivolousness of the exercise but bound to her master’s bidding. They faced off as the wind ceased and darkness closed its heavy curtain on the day.

                                     Etheria charged headlong towards her opponent and swung her armament widely.  As guessed, Penance immediately and violently stymied her and shattered the staff of her scythe into splinters with one solid stroked of her bladed arm. Etheria was cast down from the sheer velocity of the strike onto her back.

                                    Before she could catch what little breath was left, Penance plunged the blade deep into her gullet which sent merciless streaks of agony throughout every nerve contained within her body.  As Penance hunched down over her impaled quarry, she smiled, like a dawn upon evil. She ran the blade, slowly, unerringly up her abdomen and exposed the contents of her gut. Etheria gargled in her blood as it surged into her throat, seeking the quickest exit as it fled from the assault. When the blade reached her sternum, it stopped.

                                   Penance lifted her disemboweled prey into the air, the blade supported by what remained of that bone. Etheria vomited what blood did not fill her failing lungs as she ascended into the evening sky. Penance then grabbed her by the throat and callously removed the blade, as she now supported Etheria’s limp form with the hold. She spun her around with one hand, reintroduced the blade into her body through her spine, and cleaved her heart in two.

                                   You would think that would be the final blow.

                                   But, no, when Fate is challenged, costing her precious time, she expects to get full value for the price of your admission.

                                   Fate stunted Etheria’s mortality, so she could truly savor the fullness of her demise. Penance, aware of her master’s intervention, clenched Etheria’s spine and with a fluid and jolting movement, relieved her of most of its occupation. Etheria tried to scream, but the bitter concoction of body fluids pooled within her jaws muffled any attempt. Penance then raised the string of bloodied vertebrae into the atmosphere as she released Etheria’s neck and her savaged frame fell face down to the dirt below.

                                  Penance rolled her deformed and barely discernible presence over and peered deeply into her eyes. The light of life slowly faded as organs spilled out onto the ground and the flood of fluids carried them away from their devastated residence. Within the prison of her mind, Etheria begged for an end, as the agony reached levels unmeasured even in the most heinous oubliettes of hell.

                                  Penance scoffed as the echo of Fate’s applause reverberated through her mind. Penance then threw her spine into the rising wheat as the blood released into the air refracted a hideous rainbow in the radiating moonlight. She stood above what was left of Etheria’s battered and broken form. Despite the horror of her shattered singularity, Etheria was still agonizingly aware of her environment.

                                 “Education, my dear,” Penance purred, “can be a very painful thing but some lessons require the fullest brunt of its potency.” “This will be one you shall never forget.”

                                 Penance removed her dagger from her scabbard, a hauntingly menacing instrument, etched in the blood of its victims, still whispering their screams of anguish. Etheria could differentiate every voice and desolate plead for unrequited mercy.

                                “Go to hell!” Etheria gurgled with the last bits of strength she had left.

                                “What did you say?” Penance stopped and growled.

                                “Go to hell you hideous piece of shit!” Etheria trilled her last words.

                                 Then her throat seized after the last syllable was pronounced.

                                “Well, well, this one still has fight in her.” Fate called to her savage servant, “intriguing wouldn’t you agree my pet.”

                                 Penance merely grumbled in response.

                                 Anyone else who had called her a pet would have been dead before the T sound was completed but those were very different times.

                               “I wonder,” Fate continued, “would this one be better utilized as a servant of mine, than a resident of Oblivion?” “I mean few, if any, have mustered the courage to beg for pity, let alone remain so impertinent in the face of damnation. This one may have spirit enough to be an asset. What do you think my pet?”

                               Penance only grunted in disagreement as she retracted her blade and returned the dagger to its ornately decorated sheath.

                             “My apologies, she has always been the strong, silent type,” Fate’s voice invaded Etheria’s mind as she continued to choke on her own sustenance, “an admirable quality in a minion, I must admit.”

                              Penance merely snarled but remained obedient as she circled Etheria’s eventual corpse. Etheria violently coughed out a glob of coagulated blood that glided down her cheek and mixed with the dust below her as it formed a tiny crimson-tinted mud puddle. Her essence began its final crash, memory and thought dissipated as her body and mind failed.

                             “I think it is time for you to retire,” Fate beckoned to her servant, “you have served me well, and I promised your freedom when it was deserved.  That time has now come. The Crux needs a more permanent overseer of Oblivion, a more dedicated ferryman, gatekeeper, and warden. This young lass may be just what I am looking for. What do you say, my pet, time for a change?”

                             Penance stared suspiciously at first, then gradually bowed and mentally returned, “whatever my master desires, is what I desire.”

                           “Very good,” Fate responded, “then the matter is settled!”

                            Suddenly Etheria’s body was engulfed in a blinding luminance as the ArgaMax unleashed its power. Within seconds, all evidence of her evisceration was removed, forgotten by Time and Reality. She was levitated to her feet as air refilled her strained lungs, her heart and organs reformed, and all memory returned without deviation. The light subsided as does the energies that ravaged her actuality.  Fate whispered within Penance’s essence and she roared with displeasure as she spread her imposing opal wings and abruptly rose into the night.

                          “She’s free now,” Fate’s shrill voice resounded in Etheria’s reborn mind,“free from this duty, but rest easy; I have another, equally impressive task for her.” “She wasn’t entirely satisfied with the outcome but that is the way it must be. A bit of temper on that one, I forgive it though; her talents far outweigh that annoying little detriment. That is just who Penance is, a volatile recipe of angst, insolence, and bravado. Despite her intimating capabilities she can still be controlled, you just have to know how long to make the leash to give her the illusion of free will. Enough about her though, my dear, let’s talk about you, shall we.”

                          “What are you going to do to me?” Etheria questioned without saying a word.

                          “My dear, it’s not about what we are going to do to you,” Fate gently corrected, “it’s about what we are going to do with you!”

                          “And what is that?” Etheria carefully responded.

                          “Silly girl, I need someone to play the part of Death, of course,” Fate gleefully exclaimed, “and for that part, I have chosen you!”

                         “Why?” Etheria blurted.

                         “Why,” Fate taunted, “because you have just the moxie I am looking for, the brazen chutzpa that this position needs. No one has ever demonstrated that kind of foolish grit and fearlessness in the face of their finality before, mostly because that is how I designed it to be, but we will talk about that later.”

                        “You want me to be death?” Etheria confusedly clarified.

                        “Of course, and we can discuss the terms as we go get your sister,” Fate playfully instructed.

                        “What does she have to do with this?” Etheria gasped.