Old House

The old house had been built in the mid 1800s and through the years its soul had slowly evaporated.  First the paint had fled, running away from the blistering sun.  The windows had wept their panes of glass away, leaving empty sockets staring into the overgrown backyard.  Cold had seeped so far into the walls, that the chill was the only thing holding the place upright, and the air inside held the echo of the last person closing the door for that final time.

Yet Jacob couldn’t bring himself to tear the place down.  His great great grandfather had built it, and so it was a part of the family.  He just wished there was an old house home he could send this particular one to and only visit it on Christmas and its birthday.  It would have made life so much easier.  Instead the fencing people were coming tomorrow to install a fence to hide the eyesore.  It was cheaper that way.  Jacob turned back to his house, built on the property just a couple of years ago, and smiled.   That will never happen to my house he thought as he stretched and walked back down the hill.  My house will last forever.

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The Second Person (A 100 Word Post)

Inspired by a friend of mine and how she thought she felt stalkerish writing in second person.  I wondered if I could flip that thought.  Thanks Katie!


You open my blog and peer within.  You read a few of my shorter pieces of fiction and chuckle at some bit of wit that I managed to properly capture.  You look at some of my longer works, those both finished and in process.  You wonder about who I am.  You try to figure out how the same person might write these two pieces of fiction that had such a different flavor and tone.  That’s when you realize you have crossed that line, the one that goes from a casual visitor to a resident in my mind.  How’s that feel?

The Trial of Adam part 2

Alice Abernathy had graduated top of her class from law school, and that was the low point of her career.  That was why Adam had hired her.  That and they had dated a while back,  She had dumped him for a multitrillionaire playboy who thought he could get a prenup worth a damn past her.  She now was so rich she owned a few small planetoids.  Still, when Adam had called she had come running.  The publicity from defending a murderer who happened to be the federation’s foremost xenobiologist and an A list celebrity of his own right was too good to pass up.  She was even doing it pro bono.  Well, kind of.  She had first publishing rights, but Adam didn’t care about it.  He still held holograph rights.

Alice was still beautiful enough to take his breath away, but right now Adam needed that awesome brain than that rock hard body located under that dark blue suit.   “So what is the betting line?” asked Adam.

“You are dead by morning is two to one,” Alice said, no hint of a smile in her eyes at all.

“Now that would be swift miscarry of justice,” Adam said.  “We still have to go through all the appeals.”

Alice pointed at the table.  “You might not want to do that,” she said.  “They are offering you a deal.”

“Okay, Adam said.  “Lay it on me.”

“Exile to the newest penal world.  There you will work on identification and classification.  You will have some autonomy, but you would still be a prisoner,” Alice said.

Adam picked up one of the sheets of paper.  It was written in the arcane legalese that only those who had pledged their being to the system were allowed to learn.  He didn’t like that thought since that would mean the system got one step further than he did with Alice, and his ego wouldn’t accept that.  “So that should take like ten years, fifteen tops.” Adam said.  “What happens after that?”

“After that?  There is no after that,” Alice said.  “You settle in till that long dark goodnight.”

Alice would have been a poet if she didn’t love putting people in their place.  “That’s bullshit,” Adam said.  “A life sentence?”

Alice actually stomped her foot.  He had gotten under her skin.  She still had a flame for him.  “Bullshit?” she asked.  “You murdered fifty people on that colony.”

“Allegedly,” said Adam.

“No, not allegedly anymore.  You were found guilty by a sitting jury.  You are a murderer,” Alice said.

“They committed suicide,” countered Adam.  “If they had listened to me they would all be alive and I would have won yet another Confederation Star of Science.”

“You told them to starve slowly while you took the only emergency spacecraft out of the system,” Alice said.

“And they stupidly decided to go hunting on a world I had already declared uncolonizable.  The creatures were so poisonous and borderline sentient that unless you flattened most of the forests from orbit the settlers would be overrun.  Staying in the settlement pod was their only chance.  Yes, it would have been uncomfortable, but most people can stand a two month fast and recover with little or no lasting effects,” Adam said.

Alice looked at him that told him he was crossing a line, but he had been silent about this for so long.  She never let him get on the stand to testify for himself.  He could have shown that idiotic jury and judge that he had done what was needed.  “The Federation needed to know before the next settlement ship put out.  The teleport gate had collapsed so there was no other way than to get far enough to engage a wormhole.”

Alice crossed her arms and looked him in the eye.  “You did it because you wanted to have the credit of your fiftieth world identified and classified.  You knew that Pederson was about to file and you wanted to beat him to the punch.”

“Is that what you’re writing in your version of the story?” asked Adam.

Alice didn’t even blink.  “The worst thing about it is you had room to take ten of them with you.  Ten less people to share what little food was left.”

“Ten more idiots to live with,” Adam said.  Alice looked down her nose at him in disgust.  ”You know exactly what I mean Alice.  Don’t lie to yourself, much less me.  You would have pushed the bastards out the airlock as soon as you were in vacuum.”

“But I wasn’t there to do it,” Alice said.  “I didn’t leave those people to die since help took over four months to get there.”

“It wasn’t my fault I had technical difficulties with the wormhole generator,” Adam said.  “I’m not a dumb engineer.  I’m a scientist.”

Alice poked her finger into his chest.  “It was your fault.  The jury has said so.  Now I was able to get this deal for you and I suggest you take it.”

Adam turned away from Alice and walked towards the door he had come in.  Once again he wanted to scream.  Didn’t they see what a mistake they were making.  He was worth not fifty of those settlers, but fifty thousand at least.  If he wasn’t there when they arrived they would have died in mere days.  He at least had given them a chance.  Still, here he was.  He needed more information.  “What are the alternatives?” Adam asked.

“You will be sentenced to death by scattering teleportation,” Alice said matter of factly.  “I have been told in no uncertain terms that this will be the end game for the state.  No other offers, no other possibilities.”

Adam didn’t turn around.  His thoughts scattering in the hurricane force winds whirling through his mind.  “After everything I have done for the Federation?” he asked.

“Because of those things, and the strings I pulled you are getting one last chance to work,” Alice said.  She walked up behind Adam, but didn’t not reach out to console him.  For some reason that suited him for the moment.

“Look, I can get you your own accommodations, separate from the general population.  You will still have a lab and a chance to do your magic one last time.  Who knows what might happen,” Alice said.

Adam didn’t move a muscle, the winds finally settling in his head.  He didn’t want to do anything to disturb their natural flow.  He looked for patterns, just like he did in the biomes he studied.

“Look, the populace wants you gone.  This deal was tough to get. I promise I’ll work on getting you back sometime,” Alice said.

Finally Adam saw the pattern and he shook his head in disbelief.  He turned and looked Alice in the eye.  “Tell them I’ll take it, but they are making a huge mistake,” Adam said.  Alice looked relieved.  “Oh, and just because I’m exiled doesn’t mean you get the holograph rights.”

Alice shook her head and moved to the door and pounded on it.  She called out, “Henry, the bastard’s all yours.”

A Romantic Evening

The room was dark except for the TV which was on an old version of Sabrina. Clarisse always thought that movie brought out the romantic side of Ken.  Ken was quiet, having put down his Negroni a few minutes ago after he has told Clarisse he was getting so tired.  She had made it special just for him using the most expensive gin she could find.  Ken had asked her what tasted different and she had commented on the love she had added.

Now Clarisse held Ken in her arms as he drifted off.  She brushed back the hair from his face.  “I remember the day we met,” she said.  “It was a beautiful summer day and we were at the beach.  I invited you and Mark to have a burger since my brother Chuck had made a few too many and they weren’t going to make it home.  You killed me with your ice blue eyes, your jet black hair, and that smile that never seemed to leave your face.  I remember wishing I had worn the bikini instead of the one piece, but I didn’t know I was going to meet the man of my dreams.  ”

Ken tried to mumble something, but Clarisse put her finger to his lips.  “Shhh.  It’s okay.  You go to sleep.”

Ken seemed to struggle a bit more, but then settled back down.  “That’s better,” Clarisse said.  “You need to give in and rest.  Just like the day we got married.  Remember that?  Of course you do.  We agreed till death do us part.  That is quite the commitment.  I remember I was nervous about taking such a vow, but you told me how we were perfect for each other.  You told me how you were the luckiest man in the world for getting to marry me.  You said how you could never wanted to be with anyone else, ever.  I had never loved you more than that moment.  You made me feel like the luckiest woman in the world.”

Ken shifted again, but this time his mouth hung open and his breathing became slower.  “That’s it,” Clarisse said.  “Go ahead and rest.”  Clarisse kissed Ken on his sweaty forehead.  “I remember when you came home from that business trip to Toledo.  I decided to surprise you by doing your laundry.  I mean, I know how much you preferred to do it yourself.  You didn’t want me to waste my time on something you actually enjoyed.  But I thought with all the traveling you had been doing that I could ease your burden.  You were my provider and I wanted to give something back.  That’s why it was such a surprise to find Amanda’s little raunchy love letter in your suitcase, along with a pair of her panties.  That wasn’t the Ken I knew and loved, was it Ken?”

Ken didn’t respond except to drool in Clarisse’s cleavage.  Clarisse laid his head onto her lap.  “And then you decided to come clean about the whole thing.  How everything you told me was a lie.  How you wanted to touch and kiss and screw Amanda and that you were leaving me to do it on a more regular basis.  I reminded you that we said till death do us part.  You told me that they were just words.  Just words?  What do you think now?”  She slapped Ken across the face, but he didn’t respond.  He kept breathing very slowly and drooling.  Clarisse began to cry.  “I believed in them then, and I believe in them now,” she said.

With that Clarisse picked up a knife from the tray next to her and stabbed Ken in the chest.  She kept stabbing again and again, spraying blood everywhere.  Soon Ken stopped breathing, but Clarisse continued until the knife fell out of her tired hand.

Clarisse then picked up the drink Ken had sipped from before becoming sleepy.  She held it over Ken’s corpse.  “Till death do us part,” she said.  She chugged down the rest of the glass and kissed Ken’s blood spattered forehead and tried to get comfortable, waiting for the drugs to take her away.  The Negroni left a bitter taste in her mouth, but that was fitting and somewhat comforting.

“I love you, Ken.  I do.” were her last words said to nobody.

Fallen From Mercy chapter 19

Dan popped two Advil and drank half of his coffee before coming up for air.  Gary stared at him, amazed that Dan had even come in.  Dan looked like a raccoon and his nose definitely didn’t look straight anymore.  Dan kept silent, trying not to let the buzz of the fluorescent lights get through the dull pounding he was already feeling in the base of his skull.  Bad enough the white light scared him when the elevators opened onto the precinct floor.

Gary gave Dan the are you going to come clean look, but Dan easily brushed it aside with the don’t even go there scowl.  Gary ignored the scowl.  “You can record your porn now you know instead of staying up late at night.”

“I wish it was that fun,” Dan hoarsely whispered back.  “Stupid dreams with that crazy guy who bit me.”

“He really got under your skin, huh?” Gary asked.

“You are almost funny.”  Dan sat on Gary’s desk, daring Gary to say something.

Gary took him up on the dare.  “Maybe getting bit is a phobia of yours that you didn’t know about.”

“I doubt it,” Dan said.  “Never had a problem before.”

“You’ve been bit that badly before?”  Gary asked.  He didn’t wait for an answer.  “I was watching this show the other night about weird phobias.  Anything could set it up,  a bad day with a dog, being bit by your cousin.  Hell almost any traumatic experience as a kid it could turn into a phobia.”

“I had a traumatic experience,” Dan said.  “Much worse than getting bit, trust me.”

Gary’s eyes lit up.  “Oh yeah, what happened.”

“I don’t want to think about it right now.”  Everything about Dan screamed drop it.

Gary didn’t notice.  “See, it’s that powerful you don’t want to even think about it.  Talk about it.  Confession can be a freeing experience.”

“Screw you and your confession.”

Gary feigned being slighted.  “You kiss your mother with that mouth?”

“I kiss your mom with this mouth,” Dan replied.  “Even slip her tongue.”  He then proceeded to stick out his tongue and wag it back and forth.

That stopped Gary in his tracks.   “That’s just wrong.”

“What can I say, she likes it.”  Dan picked up the paper Gary had been reading.

“Fine, we’ll leave your personal problems till a future opportunity.”  Gary pointed at the paper Dan was holding.  “That’s what I was able to find after I did some poking around,” Gary said.  “It looks like the investigation was legit.  Of course they didn’t come to vice until we had brought their canary in.”

Dan gave the paper a once over and handed it back to Gary.  “Doesn’t make sense.  Pops could have clued us in.  There’s something we’re missing.”

“I know that,” Gary said.  “I’ve put out feelers over in Pops’ neck of the woods.”  That got Dan to raise his eyebrows.  “I had a couple of favors I could call in from cases where I was able to give some evidence over to show their client was innocent,” Gary said.

Dan almost choked on his coffee.  “Bet that pissed off the prosecutors.”

“They didn’t know.  It was off the books.”

Dan saluted Gary with his coffee.  “Still, why the nice guy treatment?”

Gary shrugged.  “We’re supposed to catch the bad guys.”

“And she was cute?” Dan asked.

“That’s none of your business,” Gary said.  “Besides, when your back scratches you scratch it.”

Dan patted Gary on the shoulder.  “That’s the Gary I know.  Anything else?”

“Anything else?” Gary asked.  “Am I the only person bringing anything to this party or is someone calling this ‘Pop case, party of one’?”

“I talked to your informant yesterday.  It caused me more nightmares last night.”  Dan suppressed a shudder.

“You look like a hangover, not a nightmare,” Gary observed.

Dan glared at Gary.  “I have the twofer, thank you very much.  I’m blaming both on your man.”

“Fine, you get brownie points.”

“Thank you,” Dan said.

Gary quickly countered.  “But you’re buying lunch.”

“Kick a man while he’s down.”

“It’s been my experience it’s better to keep them down then to let them get back up,” Gary said with mischief in his eyes, “or at least that’s what my illustrious partner always tells me.”

“Flattery will get you nowhere,” Dan said, but he decided to concede, “except maybe lunch.”

Just Another Normal Day

Marshal stormed into the house and slammed the door behind him.  His mother’s voice called out from the kitchen.  “How many times have I told you don’t slam the door!  I don’t want to have to replace it again.”

Marshal dropped his book bag to the floor and it sounded like he had dropped a ton of bricks.  Marshal said, “Sorry, it’s just that they made me angry!”

His mother came around the corner and gave him the parental glare.  That helped put some of the anger in check.  “Sorry mom,” he said.

“So what happened this time?” she asked as she let the glare up just a bit.

“I saw two cars get into an accident right in front of me and I couldn’t do a darn thing,” Marshal said.  “There was another of the damn video traffic cameras.”

“I’m sorry dear,” his mother said giving up the rest of the glare.  “But you know you have to protect who you are.”

Marshal added on a ‘and protect your friends and family’ to that as well.  “Mom, why did you and dad have me?” he asked.

“Now honey, we are not going to go there,” his mother said.   She disappeared around the corner.

Marshal hurried after her.  “Oh no, I want to know.  If I can’t be who I am then why am I here?” he asked.

His mother tried to turn back on the gaze, but Marshal was having none of that.  “Look, you had to know I was going to be different,” he said.

“We didn’t know no such thing!” his mother responded.  “Genetics are weird things.  Our condition is recessive.  You’ve taken biology.  You know it was a one in four chance at best.”

“Now you’re a science teacher too?” asked Marshal.  “Can you tell me about the Marianna Trench?”

“The Mariana Trench is the deepest part of the world’s oceans, located just to the east of the Mariana Islands,” said his mom.  She then put her hand over her mouth.  Marshal immediately was sorry he went that far.  “So you decided to use me as Google?” she asked.  “Go to your room!”

“Mom, you have a gift, just like me.  You could go on Jeopardy and make a million,” said Marshal.

“You know perfectly well why not,” she said.

“Because the norms would try to kill us,” said Marshal.

“Because people fear something or someone different, especially if they have powers and abilities that everyday folk don’t.”  His mom could see the hurt in Marshal’s eyes.  “I’m sorry you have to pretend you are somebody you aren’t.  For most people it means pretending they like their boss or that annoying kid that sits behind you.  For you, it means no lifting cars and making sure the bully actually gets to think he beat you up.  Look, life isn’t fair.  I still use my powers, so do you.  It’s just that we have to be careful.”

“But with all these cameras everywhere, how will we ever be able to help, and I mean really help.  I know I could save lives,” Marshal said.

“People are so scared that they want complete control,” she said.  “It means they would rather have limited success in defeating the bad guys then letting us help them along.  Maybe someday we can come out of the dark, but not right now. “

“It still sucks,” said Marshal.

His mother gave her son a hug.  “Agreed.  Now please go pick up your things.  Your father should be home any minute.”

There was a large puff of black smoke and Marshal’s father appeared before them.  “Hi everyone, I’m home.”  His dad noticed Marshal and his mom hugging.  “Bad day?”

Marshal shook his head no.  “Nope, just another normal day.”

Fallen From Mercy chapter 18

Dan looked at his bed and the beer in his hand.  He went back out into the living room and looked at his front door.  He checked all the locks and walked back to the bedroom.  “This is stupid,” he said.  Dan couldn’t bring himself to sleeping in his bed, so he went to the recliner and pushed back, downing the beer in one long pull and placing it next to the three others.  The clink made him jump a bit, but then he settled back down.  Jorge had a lucky guess.  Jorge saw the dark circles under Dan’s eyes, the way Dan was sluggish.  It was obvious that Dan hadn’t been sleeping.  Yeah, and when Dan himself was shitfaced he could throw bull’s-eyes repeatedly while blindfolded, not.

Dan struggled to keep his eyes open, but knew it was a losing battle.  Now the idea of being too drunk to dream didn’t sound so good.

That lucid dream feeling penetrated Dan’s drunken stupor.  He didn’t want to open his eyes, but he could feel Sean’s presence in front of him.

“Playing possum won’t help you, you know.  When I come to you, you can’t ignore me.  I won’t let you,” Pastor Sean said.

Dan still refused to open his eyes, but couldn’t help himself.  “Someone got up on the pompous ass side of the bed this morning.”

Dan could feel Sean lean close to his face.  “You still think this is a game?” Sean asked.

“The least you could have done is brush your teeth,” Dan replied.  “Your breath is atrocious.  Must be all that human flesh you eat.”

Sean slapped Dan across the face, slamming Dan’s head to the right.  “I think tonight I find out what makes you you.  Then I will unmake you step by step.  I will domesticate you.”

Dan spit out the blood in his mouth in Sean’s direction, his eyes still closed.  “Sorry there bud.  I’ve never learned how to cook.”

Dan heard a scraping sound from somewhere in front of him.

“What an ugly thing,” Sean gloated.  “Only something a father could love.”

Dan almost opened his eyes right then and there, but wanted to maintain some control.  He focused on his center assuming that this is only a dream.  He deeply hoped that he was right.  He really loved that ugly vase.

“I bet you have some good stuff in here,” Sean said.  Dan could hear Sean shake the vase.  “Let’s look inside, shall we?”

Dan laughed.  “Unless you’re looking for the remote or the church key then you’re out of luck,” Dan said.

“I think I just found something more interesting,” Sean purred.  “Let’s see.”

 

The back seat of the old Camaro was pretty tight, especially as he and Agatha were almost horizontal.  The chill air of late November fogged the windows, helping with the mood of there only being the two of them in the whole wide world.  Agatha’s shirt was already cooling off in the front seat and her bra was somewhere among his shirt on the floor below them.  He directed kisses up and down her body, each quiver from Agatha sending electrical shocks through his body.  Everything felt so right.  His hands began to drift lower, rubbing her skirt, shifting it ever higher.  She realized what he was doing and began to seize up.  He stopped and returned to her breasts and lips.  He felt her wariness evaporate as he kept showing her how much he wanted this moment, wanted her.

            “I love you,” he said.  She moaned in pleasure from hearing him say it again.  Her tongue sought his, her kisses as deep and passionate as his were.  She had wants as well.  She was telling him that.

            “I love you too,” Agatha breathed as they broke the kiss.

            Those words spurred him on.  Kissing her neck, nibbling lower, listening to her breathing, her moans and half formed words, trying to give her all he could, all that he was.  He shifted his lower body, grinding against hers, feeling hers respond, then Aggie began shutting it off.  He bent to kiss her again, but she pushed him off.

            “We can’t, I won’t,” Agatha said.  She looked around for her bra.  “That’s for after we’re married.  It’s wrong and dangerous.”

            “Dangerous?  How can something so good be that bad?” he asked.

            “We’re not ready to be parents,” she said.

            “But we love each other,” he pleaded.

            She shook her head.  “That doesn’t change the rules.  I would be going against who I am, what I believe.”

            “You don’t believe in us?” he asked.

            That question stopped her in her tracks.  He leaned in and gave her a kiss on her cheek.  “I know that I want to,” Dan said.

            “But what about what God wants?” she asked

            He realized he was treading on unstable ground, but he loved her so bad.  He wanted to prove it to her.  “Why did God give us this chance to be together?”

            “As a test,” she said.

            “So passing would mean denying who we are?”  Dan asked.

            “Sacrifice is sometimes needed,” Agatha responded

            He let that one hang in the air.

            “It’s not that I don’t want to,” Agatha continued, “but I promised myself that I would wait.”

            “So if we got married right now that would make you happy?” Dan asked.
Agatha sputtered.  “Are you crazy?  We can’t do that?”

            Dan looked Agatha in the eyes.  All the playfulness was gone.  It was replaced with the most serious face Dan had ever worn.  “I, Dan Cunningham take you, Agatha Crisp, to be my wife to cherish and hold in good times and bad, until death makes us part.”

            Agatha held very still, tears welling up in her eyes.  “Are you sure about this?”

            He felt so sure, there was nothing he wanted more in this moment.  He couldn’t bring himself to say anything.  He just put all his love out there and waited.

            Agatha looked at her hands where there should have been a ring.  He thought that’s it, no chance now.

            Agatha lifted her head and looked into his eyes.  “I, Agatha Crisp, take you, Dan Cunningham to be my husband, through sickness and health, in richness and poorness, to follow where you lead, till death do us part.”

            Dan was overcome with joy.  He kissed her gently at first, than harder, with the urge to show her how much he loved her, how much he wanted her. 

            Soon things were happening almost too fast to register.  Her panties on the floor of his car, him inside, their need pushing them on desire, wanting, love pouring from every inch of their combined bodies.

            Resting afterwards he pushed a stray lock of hair from her face.  She smiled at him and kissed his hand.  Contentment with what they had done, where the universe was at that moment, washed over the two of them as they cuddled in the darkness.  He thought how perfect this all is.

 

Dan’s eyes snapped open and he growled.  “Stay out of my head,” he said.  Sean didn’t even look up from the vase.  He pulled out another picture and looked at it.  Dan got out of the chair and Sean flicked his wrist and threw the picture between them.

 

            “I can’t come over.  I…” he paused, trying to figure how to say it, “I’ve decided to join the marines.”

            “Why?” Agatha asked, tears evident in her voice, even over the phone.

            “I want to be able to provide for you and our baby,” he responded.  He put another shirt into his duffle bag.

            “But why do you need to go into the marines?  My dad said he could get you a job at the plant.”  Agatha was on a roll now.  “You’d have to work the night shift at first, but it pays good and the benefits.”

            He didn’t want to go down this road, but she started it.  “I want it to be me who does this.  The other feels like it’s still your dad and I’m just following along.”

            Agatha laughed harshly.  “You can be so stubborn sometimes.”

            He tried to lighten the mood.  “That’s why you love me.”

            “So when do we get married?”  Agatha almost snapped his neck with this change of direction.

            “I think when I get somewhere a bit more stable?”  He didn’t mean for it to come out as a question.  She had him running now.

            “What’s more stable?” Agatha asked.  “Having me with you, or leaving me behind?”

            He decided to go for a different track.  “But do you want to have the baby at some base away from family and support?”

            “So you won’t take the job from my dad, but you expect his support for the baby.”  She was hot now.  Hot and looking for the fight.

            He hated the arguing and missed the nights cuddling under the stars.  “I’m going to send almost all of my paycheck to you.  I don’t want you to have to get money from your folks.  I want to do you good.”

            “Then what support do I need from my family?” Agatha asked.

            “I just figured you would want your mom and sister around to help, especially right after the baby is born,” Dan said.

            “But what about the baby’s father?”

            That question slapped him across the face.  He couldn’t answer that.  Not now.  “I am going to visit my grandfather for the next two weeks before shipping out.”

            “So you’re abandoning us?” she asked.  The tears were flowing now.  He was so glad he was on the phone and didn’t go to see her.  That would have been worse, for both of them.  It’s better this way.

            “No Aggie.  This is just for a bit, until I get through basic and get stationed.  Then I’ll send for you and the baby, and we can get married.”  Silence greeted him from the other side of the phone.  He decided to press on.  “Save part of the money I send you.  We can use it for the wedding then.”  The silence was still there, broken only by stifled sobs.  “I love you.”

            “I love you too,” a little voice said.  It tore at his heart, almost made him change his mind. This was the best plan though.  He’d thought about it for a couple of days now, and it made perfect sense. 

Agatha almost whispered, “I just…”

            He couldn’t help himself.  “What Aggie?”

            “Never mind.  If you really think this is best I have to trust you.  I took an oath to follow, even if it means staying behind.  I just love you so much.”

            “I love you too,” he said.  “I’ve really got to get going.  I’ll call you every week.  I promise, except during basic.  They don’t let us contact the outside.”

            “You do what you need to.  I’ll be waiting for you.  Till death do us part.”  There was a resolve in her voice that frightened and shamed him.

 

Dan blinked away the memory as Sean walked around the table to stand next to him.  “My goodness,” said Sean, “You do have some juicy moments around here.  I wonder what else you have hidden around here.”

“Why are you doing this?” asked Dan, already trying to find his center.

Sean took a couple of steps away and looked at a picture of Ruthie when she was five.  She had two bloody knees, but a proud look on her face as she peddled he bicycle without the training wheels.  Agatha looked a bit pale, but she had a matching proud look in her eyes.  Sean looked up form the picture.  “Because I can.  Some people say it’s impolite to play with your food, but I look at it differently.  You are now part of my flock and I am your shepherd.  The problem is people make shitty sheep.  A shepherd wants his sheep to be docile and follow his voice.”

“I can see where that would be a problem,” Dan interrupted.

That didn’t really stop Sean.  “I like it when my sheep realize their place.  Makes the shepherd’s life, my life, easier.”  He took out a cigarette and without lighting it placed it in his mouth.  The cigarette lit on its own.

“This is a no smoking building,” quipped Dan.

Sean blew smoke at Dan.  The smoke took on the shape of a dragon, blue eyes glowing from its demonic face.  “This is your broken ass dream.  If I want to smoke I will.”

Dan picked up a magazine and waved it dispelling the smoke dragon back to formless smoke.  “I hate to rush your stupid diatribe, but is this the part where you put me in my place or are you going to talk me back to sleep?”

Sean laughed.  “I will like breaking your will as I suck the soul right out of you.”

“I hope I give you heartburn,” Dan said as he lunged out and landed a strike to Sean’s stomach.  Sean folded over and Dan tried to connect with a knee to Sean’s face, but Sean danced out of the way.

Sean grew to three times his size and the ceiling overhead broke and gave way sending plaster cascading down like heavy snow.  The open ceiling exposed a white nothingness beyond.  Seeing the damage, Dan’s head felt like it was going to explode, and he fell to his knees due to the pain.  Sean grabbed Dan in one large hand and lifted him clear off the floor.  Sean squeezed and Dan could only emit a helpless yelp.  Sean threw Dan across the apartment.  He hit the back wall with a dull thud and collapsed into a ball on the floor.

Sean shrunk back down to normal.  “Now that’s a little better.”  Sean looked at the damage to the apartment and laughed.  “I think you need more remodeling.”  Sean pointed at the nothingness and pulled it towards him through the hole and into the apartment.

Dan rolled back and forth, pain pushing into him, permeating his entire being and he felt sanity begin to slip away a bit.  He tried his entering technique, fighting through the pain haze.  Little by little the pain subsided, and as he pushed it away the whiteness began to leave the apartment.

Sean released his hold on the white nothingness and leapt over the couch.  He charged Dan, kicking Dan in the face and flipping him onto his back.  Dan looked up at the hatred in Sean’s eyes.  “Cute trick,” Sean said.  Dan’s vision was then blocked by Sean’s fist punching him in the face.  “Try that again and I will just kill you.”

Dan checked his nose and saw blood.  He smiled a bit punch drunkenly.  “Killing your meal ticket doesn’t seem very smart, does it?”

Sean turned away disgusted and walked over to the shelves.  He looked at the trophies and picked one.  “This is the first trophy you ever won in martial arts.”

Dan propped himself up on his elbow.  “What of it?”

Sean snapped the trophy in half.  Dan felt the memory fracture.  Sean crushed the trophy into bits and placed them back on the shelf.  Dan realized he could remember bits and pieces of his first tournament victory, but nothing was clear.  It was all garbled.  Sean grabbed a ribbon he had one for marksmanship at the precinct.  Sean snapped his fingers and the ribbon caught fire and was consumed in seconds.  Dan could feel the memory turning to smoke in his head.  Soon he couldn’t remember what it was he had been thinking about.

Sean picked up another trophy, one that Ruthie had won in Buffalo her third year in Tae Kwon Do.  “Wait, don’t,” Dan pleaded.  He didn’t understand what was happening, but he didn’t want to forget more.  “Please.”

Sean smiled.  “I’m glad I finally have your attention.”  Sean collapsed the trophy into a pancake between his hands.  He tossed the distorted disk in front of Dan.  “Let’s see what kind of sheep you’ll be now.”

Dan heard Sean walk away, but his eyes stayed glued to the disk and the garbled memory that it was attached to.  Dan grabbed the disk and clutched it to his chest trying to remember.

Before going out the broken door Sean turned back and said, “Sweet dreams.  Till tomorrow night.”  Sean laughed as he crossed the threshold and was gone.

Dan could feel tears start to run down his face.  All he could think is what the hell just happened to me as dreamless sleep tore him away from his waking nightmare.