By: M. James MacLaren
BloooooOOOOOOOOP! brrrrrrrRRRRRRrrrrrrRRRRRRrrrrrRRRRRrrrrrRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! Skritch. Skritch. DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.
“Hash” skritch “skey Tango Fox” skritch “Ite” skritch “ve sequence” skritch “heim stroke pearl commenc” skritch “Repeat” skritch “erative seq” skritch skritch “an” skritch “eim stroke pearl” skritch “encing. Zero…one…” skritch “one…one zero…” skritch
Principal could almost remember his real name during the liminal moments between sleep and full wakefulness. This man-before-mission would reach out to check the empty space next to him and wonder where she had gone to so early in the morning and why she had taken half of the bed with her. He would crack open one eye and stare expressionless at the dingy room that was not his bedroom in the cabin.
This morning he was taking stock, as he always did upon awakening, of the room in which he lay. Other than the cot that served as his bed, there was a filing cabinet, a desk, a rolling chair, and a bank of radio equipment which sat with morose importance to the right of the desk. Normally, the radio did nothing but emit a low hum, as though it were as bored as he was and could think of no other way to pass the time. There had been no radio chatter in thirty years, since the coded transmission to stand fast and await further instructions.
Today, however, the radio was receiving a transmission. Principal pushed up from his cot and walked to the radio, turning a few knobs to try to increase reception. The voice that emanated from the speakers was that of a woman with a British accent who spoke slowly and enunciated every word as though auditioning for a play.
“…one one one zero one…one zero zero zero” skritch
The radio signal dropped and the message was interrupted by the grinding glass sound of static. A moment later, the radio reacquired the signal.
“…five zeros. Iterative sequence” skritch “an” skritch “eim stroke pearl commencing. Zero…one…”
Principal sat at his desk and pulled a pencil and notepad from the drawer. He wrote the words he could hear between static. It meant something. Something that tickled the back of his mind. He sat back in his chair and closed his eyes, trying to chase it down. It was a hare and his mind was a hound, running it down as it tried to elude him and hide in the recesses of his consciousness. He caught the thought in his mental jaws and whipped it back and forth, bleeding the information from it.
An eim? An eim…an heim. Anaheim!
Principal opened his eyes and lunged for the filing cabinet. The drawer refused his pull. He swore and looked for the keyring he had been given when he had taken the post. As tidy as he like to keep his area, there was still thirty years of detritus built up around his desk. Old journals, out of date sectionals, diagrams of troop movements, Russian-to-English dictionaries, and the occasional skin mag was flung over his shoulder or into a corner as he ransacked the desk drawers. The British woman on the radio kept reciting the sequence of ones and zeros, interrupted by whatever change in the ionosphere made the signal drop.
Principal’s hand closed over a cold, metallic ring and he yanked the keys out of the back of the drawer with a triumphant “ah-hah!” He unlocked the filing cabinet and pulled on the drawer so violently that it tipped the entire cabinet over when it hit the end of its track. Manuals and files that had not been touched since Korea scattered over the floor and he dove to his knees to search through the mess. He picked up different colored booklets and documents in triplicate, throwing them out of his way without any thought to where they might land.
At last he found what he was looking for. A small booklet about the size of a passport lay at the bottom of the pile. Its cover was red leather and bore no words nor markings of any kind. He straightened his back, still on his knees, and flipped through the book quickly. Code words zipped by his eyes, a procession of strange, unrelated words which were meaningless unless spoken by the disembodied voice on the radio. He stopped when he got to the entry for which he was looking.
Anaheim – Invasion imminent. Execute Operation Flooded Warren.
Principal threw the code book and began searching again for the Operations box. He found it a moment later, a wooden box with its hinges now broken and its contents of opaque plastic cards. He found the one labeled “Flooded Warren” and snapped it open. He pulled the thin, plastic film from within and read the terse operation description.
- Deploy counter-insurgency force.
- Destroy all structures usable by enemy: bridges, dams, refineries, warehouses, etc.
- Continue harassment of enemy until ordered to stand down by Presidential edict.
Principal leapt to the radio. He turned a dial and the British woman’s voice vanished in a squall and whistle of changing frequencies. He keyed the mic and spoke. He did not realize until later as he was packing his gear that it was the first time he had addressed another human being since 1962.
“All blue eagles to aerie. The bears are here. Repeat: the bears are here.”
For more from M. James MacLaren, check out his website: mjamesmaclaren.com. You can also follow him on Facebook: M James MacLaren. His novelettes, Harbinger (The Hounds Part I), Chimera (The Hounds Part II), and The Cell (The Hounds Part III) are all available for Kindle through Amazon.com (links are embedded in their titles).
By Nicholas Harrist
I could only focus my attention to the clouds. They were going too quick, and it seemed as if time was escaping me. My face was scraping the glass of my elongated window, which zoomed in onto a local hotel that was nearby. Specifically a room full of kids from a family that couldn’t stop having sex and reproducing kids.
I was too well-established
I had grown on this apartment and it’s modernized design. It’s grimacing grey outlook, finalized with the persistent white borders along its windows, and mostly every piece of artwork on-hand. I wasn’t too fashionable with Van Gogh during this modern era, just too worried about my own morals. I began to vividly gasp upon the heroin I had laid against the white bordered, circular table that I bought back in 06. It was this yellowish powder, comprised of a social, and economical demise that I couldn’t help but be infatuated in. But as I gazed upon this drug, this unfathomable creature, I began to whimsically conduct a symphony: Beethoven Symphony No.8.
I felt as if once I was stationary in this couch, this obligation of obligated. I could see the clouds peering down towards me, touching my nose and chuckling once I was wide-eyed and crying from fear. I couldn’t help but respond to this cloud, this ambient, incandescent cloud that had eyes. No mouth, no ears, just eyes.
“Take me you weary creature!”
The eyes told the story, the eyes spoke to me through my intellect. I was hit, I was rather punished. But once I was succumbed to this creatures intellectual aspiration of its own life, I vividly remember it calling me Gerald.
But finally I released myself from my couch, falling, smacking my thin skin against the side of the circular table. I didn’t want to live this dark fantasy, I didn’t want to write something centered on mythological themed novels.
I was a writer, didn’t I tell you?
The atmosphere of this apartment was in lesser words, morality lacking. I felt dry, very unsafe of my own health. My manuscripts spewed onto the floor, a shot glass, broken against the wasted paper of my story, was noticeable. A few bonsai plants, lying above the fireplace that was strictly white, all white. I could only imagine this futuristic home.
The morning welcomed itself, the yellowish powder was messy. It was around my nose once I touched my bathroom mirror.
‘Am I truly who I want to be?’
‘Do I keep touching this mirror?’
I felt faint, very well-relaxed. I was examining the water dripping from my sink, my well spent sink. A pack of some mysterious liquid hanging above the light ahead of the mirror. A reflection of the back of my suit from work yesterday afternoon.
I was a writer, at a local creative writing building downtown.
I was very annoyed about all the locals, and how they use me for their own advantage. One writer who is too infused in this sexual themed novelette, that truly I hate. Another who writes screenplays for an indie theatre in Seattle who writes some very cruel, and dry plays. Others who are too infused in those young adult books.
I was infatuated with this manuscript, this peculiar, light-colored fascination of mine. Though it was spread against the light floor, the sun protruding this glorious light upon the paper, shining a cylindrical portion of the letter, emphasizing the black, cold letters. I was gazing upon how achievable I was. How successful I was in my life.
I seemed too gullible about my well-being.
I later found myself reliving my story in my bed. Thinking I was the main character, infused in this rich body, fornicating with endless numbers of women. But at the end of the day, I could only catch a gaze of the white fluorescent moon capturing half of my body, and everything seemed too fake to realize reality from writing.
This is Nicholas's second story posted to tonywassom.com. If you'd like to reach him, send me an email to Tony@tonywassom.com, and I'll pass it on to him. You can also checkout Nick's blog, and if you'd like to read more from him, check out his Kindle book, Beats Me, available on Amazon.com
A Moment of Clarity
By Jennifer Kent
The moment I saw the change in her eyes was probably the scariest two seconds of my life. I thought we were having fun while we were being playful until her eyes got round and her pupils dilated. She was out of her seat so fast that the chair crashed to the ground. The next five minutes passed in a complete blur. After I calmed her down, as well as I could, I payed the bill and ushered her out the door.
Now on the drive back to her place a million questions are running through my mind but I can’t bring myself to ask her any of them for fear she may get worked up again. Which I could totally handle I just can’t bear to put her through that again. The second we pull up to her house she is out of the car before I even put it in park and she slams the door in my face right as I step up onto the porch.
I decide giving her a little space is probably the best thing to do so I turn around to walk back to my car when I hear, “I hope you won’t give up on her, Landon.”
Looking to my right I see a woman, who I can only assume is her Grandmother. “I appreciate the vote of confidence but how can you be sure we didn’t have an argument?”
Patting the seat next to her she says, “Have a seat.” After I sit down she continues, “I know she seems very sweet but let me tell you if you two had an argument it wouldn’t be over. Or if it was she wouldn’t have been running away from you.”
Laughing in admiration, because I can totally see that about her, I say, “Yeah, that looked pretty bad, didn’t it. But I assure you I’m pretty sure it was embarrassment that had her fleeing from my car.”
“What did she have to be embarrassed about?”
I quickly relay what happened at dinner then add, “It was pretty scary actually. I didn’t know what to do for her. Even now I don’t want this to end because she is embarrassed or doesn’t want to explain what happened. I don’t want to push the issue but I really like her.”
Closing the book she was reading, she takes off her glasses and look s me in the eye. “When she called me out of the blue and asked me if she could stay with me while she worked on her Master’s I got nosy and called her mother. Emily and her father are thick as thieves so I knew he would never tell me but her mother can always be persuaded.” She says with a wink and adds, “Now she wouldn’t tell me exactly what happened just that she had a bad breakup and to let her tell me in her own time.”
That I could work with. As long as she trusts me enough to see me again we can work through this together. “So what your saying is to not push her.”
“She has always been a very independent and strong girl. If you try and force it out of her I fear she would completely shut you out.” She says with a sad smile.
“I definitely don’t want that.” Staring out into the front yard, I lean forward, put my elbows on my knees and think of the best way to get her to see I won’t give up so easily. “I’m pretty patient.”
“That’s good to hear, dear. Because just so you know my independent and strong girl is also very stubborn.”
Laughing I look over at Emily’s grandmother and say, “Well, that’s something we have in common then because I have no intention of giving up on someone that I have been enthralled with from the moment I first saw her.”
“Emily did say you are very romantic.” Patting my knee she continues, “That’s something she sorely needs after her last relationship. I’ve a feeling she had less of a bad breakup than a necessary one.”
That had me immediately seeing red because if there was a chance the guy before me screwed this up before we ever had a chance… I didn’t really know what I would do. All I know is that I have to prove to Emily that I am nothing like him. “Okay, that is good information to have.” I say as a lean over and kiss her on the cheek. “Like I said, we will figure this out. As for tonight I’ll go and give her some space.”
“You remind me of my late husband. You seem like you’ll be very good for Emily.” She says with a wistful smile.
“I sure hope so. I have a good feeling about us.” Standing up I walk towards the stairs but turn back to her before I descend and walk to my car. “I really appreciate our talk. Thank you.”
Before she gets the chance to answer Emily pushes the screen door open and steps out onto the porch with us.
If you'd like to send Jennifer a message, please email me at Tony@tonywassom.com and I'll pass your message on to her.