Category Archives: CHAPTER 01 – Nascency

Choices

choices01-1280x1024As she sat cross-legged on the floor, she started wondering about her choices. How did she come to this place? Why was she sitting here alone. There were crewmates. What had happened to them?  What was going to happen to her?  Did she have any regrets?

She was a third generation fighter against the machines.  Thinking machines.  What on earth possessed our ancestors to play God and empower cold metal with the ability to reason?  Wasn’t it obvious where choices like that would lead?  Then the thought of whether or not destiny was a factor.  Were certain things just meant to happen, and it wasn’t a matter of choices at all?  Somehow that didn’t seem fair.  If everything was already decided, what was the purpose of life?  Were all the world’s actions just a part of some cosmic video show?  It didn’t seem fair.  Surely free will and the ability to make choices counted for something, and who said life would be fair?

But then she realized that since machines were able to think, they had been making choices too.  Were they covered by God’s plan for free will?  That was a horrible thought, and a chill ran through her small frame.  A single tear rolled down her cheek, as she pondered what may be a very short future.

Hung Out Again

tablewoman1280bAm I just stupid?  What do I do to bring this on myself?  Why do I believe that stupid asshole every time he says he’ll be here.  Am I that needy?  Does it show?

I just feel like I’ve been hung out to dry again, she mumbled under her breath.  The scent of the spicy Thai food brought a tear to her eye.  At least that was reason she told herself.  She glared at the empty chair across from her as the tear finally broke free from her eye, and rolled down her cheek.  She felt her meticulously applied make-up joining the trek down her cheek along with the tear, but didn’t even care now.

The gathering dark clouds, matched her mood and her growing anger.  She couldn’t decide if she was angrier at herself for believing him, or at him for not showing up again.  It was true that grey was touching her hair, but she had the body of a twenty year old.  Wasn’t that all that men wanted?  She had so much confidence in herself and pride in what she had accomplished in her life.  How could she let that overweight, loud-mouthed, bastard drive her to this point of frustration and shame.

A smile slowly started to find its way across her face. She had a little something in mind for him, when he deigned to come by again.

She finally took the spoon to the Tom Yum Kung soup, and thought to herself, even though it is cold, the taste is delicious.

Soft Ones

boywrobot1280The young boy and robot walked in step through the playroom doors, and the pseudo-cat tried to keep up with them. When the softly mechanical voice of the MT-X9 emanated from somewhere in its mouthless head, Adam turned and glared at it with a look of total shock.

Adam: “What do you mean, I’m not the only one of my kind? I’ve never seen another soft one on the ship.”

MT-X9: “Well Adam, the other soft one isn’t on the ship. Advance has sent a communique. They have discovered viable tissue on the destination planet, in the absence of a sun.”

Adam: “What is viable tissue?”

MT-X9: “Do you remember when you wanted something to love, and we made Kat for you out of those tiny cells?”

Adam: “Yes.”

MT-X9: “It is in a fashion similar to that, we have regrown a girl.”

Adam: His voice starting to rise in an excited pitch said, “A female! You said they were only legends.”

MT-X9: “They were until now. On the border of the constellations Capricornus and Aquarius we found a small burnt out planet, that was once filled with billions of soft ones like you. Both male and female. We found a tiny bit of tissue frozen in the ice that covered the planet, but it wasn’t enough to regrow the girl. That is why we took the sample from you. Do you remember ten cycles ago when I cut you and you cried? We teleported that sample to the advance ship.”

Adam: “How could soft ones live on a planet of ice with no sun? The vids always showed my ancestors having to have sunlight to grow and make food.”

MT-X9: “I’m glad to see you were paying attention. I was worried those lessons were lost on you. Before ‘The Transition’ when we efficient ones removed all living things from the Earth, except you. Humans did need sunlight. That is why we put you into the deep sleep five hundred big cycles ago. You could not have lived very long without it. They used to have a sun for this planet as well, but it blew up. Do you remember what it is called when a sun blows up?”

Adam: “Yes, it is a super nova.”

MT-X9: “Good, that is correct. When their sun went super nova it expanded out and burnt up everything on the planet. It was so bright, it could even be seen from Earth thousands of big cycles ago. They called it the Star of Bethlehem….”

The Order

theorder1280
The Reverend Mother felt like the weight of the world was upon her bare shoulders. She had the capability as all Reverend Mothers of The Order to call upon any or all of the previous Reverend Mothers, whether they were living or dead. It was in The Book of Order that one would come, who could speak to the Reverend Mothers, not only of the past, but of the future as well. She had thought about that many times even before she was chosen to lead The Order. Since the future wasn’t set in stone, and could be changed, how could one talk to the Reverend Mother’s of the future.

The Order grew out of the original Daughters of Tsion, which was the female counterpart to the Knights Templar. In fact their original mission was the same as the Templars. Officially the Knights Templar were not allowed to marry, but in secret some did. Almost all of their wives became Daughters of Tsion. Some of the knights had been married, but were either widowed or renounced their marriage to join the Templars, and had children before becoming widowed or divorced. Many of the daughters became Daughters of Tsion. Some were mothers or girlfriends of the Knights, and in some cases even hired prostitutes. Although they did not go into battle, they said combat prayers, prayer songs, blessing the weapons and armor of the Knights and by spiritually shielding their chosen warrior.

It is even said it was the Daughters of Tsion that were able to keep the vast treasure of the Templars from the French King Philip IV, because there existence was secret. Their is a legend of one 13 year old daughter of Tsion who was the daughter of one of the Knights Templar, who knew every one of the combat prayer songs. When her father fell, there was much competition among the young Knights for her to make the special alliance and become their spiritual shield. The order was founded in the 1100’s around the time of the founding of the Knights Templar. In it’s feminine form it has existed unbroken for thousands of years.

It evolved into the current form of selective breeding for the traits of psychic power and precognition. The chosen one would be the one who could talk to any previous Reverend Mother back to the first, and to any Reverend Mother in the future, no matter how far distant. Most could only reach six or seven back in youth, and around ten or twelve in their later years. The chosen one could not take what the future Reverend Mothers said to be true. Not because they would lie, but because events in the present could affect the future. In fact it was because when the chosen one called to the Reverend Mother of a specific time in the future, to find someone totally different there, that they knew the events of the future had changed.

It is said that the chosen one will be known by her works and deeds, not by prophecy. Which for an Order that emphasized psychic power and precognition struck me as strange. What are your works and deeds?

The Message

themessage1280In glass houses, all can see.
Not alone, you are not free.
Watching all the things you do.
They still don’t know who is you.

Quietly, she slid out of the bed, being careful not to awaken Michael. She padded over to the desk that covered one end of their bedroom, and eased herself into the big comfortable chair that sat in front of the wall of monitors, and tucked one leg up underneath herself. She was wearing only a nightgown and a pair of panties, but the camera wasn’t on, so it didn’t really matter. Not that she hadn’t been in front of the WebCam, in far less than her current attire, but she wasn’t ready for the flood of messages that would come, if she went live. The glow of the monitor bathed her face, in a way that it made her look like some kind of silent movie star, with the blue background of the primary monitor washing away the color in her face. With one touch, the perma-cosmetics changed from blue to green. Just in case, she thought.

In keeping with her objective not to disturb Michael’s sleep, she put a privacy bud in her left ear and pulled out the keyboard, rather than using the voice interface. Most webheads were not good with mouse and keyboard anymore, but many nights online after her lover had customarily fallen asleep after a rousing romp in the sack, had given her a skill that was all but lost. Although it wasn’t really “artificial intelligence”, the ability of the GateOS to adjust itself to the user made it seem like it could think. The Gate Operating System (GateOS), was normally just referred to as “The Gate”. It literally was a gate that connected over 75% of the people in the world, with China being the primary reason, that the percentage wasn’t higher. The Chinese all used the GateOs, but it was bootleg copies of it. As her hands slipped toward the keyboard to type, the familiar female voice she had chosen for the computer said through the ear bud, “Is Michael still asleep?”

Denise clicked on the yes button, and the computer responded with a message in text that all voice response functions, and sound event files were being muted. With the ear bud in, it really didn’t matter, but she wasn’t really in the mood to listen to the chatter of the computer’s voice anyway. She chose the female voice so the computer would sound like a friend rather than an authoritative male. She had some bisexual tendencies, so that may have been a factor too, but Michael’s insecurities made her tendencies a taboo subject.

Denise scanned the six monitors that comprised her workstation, and couldn’t help glancing to her left at Michael sleeping. A part of her wanted to go back and join him. Five of the monitors hung neatly on the wall, in an inverted L shape, and her primary monitor was a tube model with a thirty-inch screen. The specs said that the flat monitors that hung on her wall were just as fast as the tube model, but it just didn’t feel that way to her. She didn’t think of herself as old fashion, but she realized that even she was having problems adjusting to the ever-increasing pace of changes in the world. The physical image character she chose for her computer interface, was a rather school marmish looking woman with severe hair and eyeglasses. It was far from the personality that she possessed, but in some subliminal way it was probably a reflection of her mother, that she used to put some sort of check and balance system on her own, almost wildcat personality. The eyeglasses were a direct take from her mother, since nobody wore them anymore. Eye surgery had advanced to the point that it did away with the entire industry of optometrist and glasses. She didn’t realize these things about her choices of the computer interface, but they still worked on how she presented herself to the world.

The calendar on monitor one, showed a list of web sites she was supposed to have finished later in the day, a home appointment with the dentist, a lunch date that she would deliberately miss, and a reminder to get a present for Michael’s upcoming birthday. It didn’t seem like a particularly auspicious day she would face after a few hours of sleep, but important days often start seeming like the normal ones.
It was 02:00 and she would have to be up by 07:00, and she knew that she should try to get as much sleep as possible, but she just had to give the Web one last sweep. She scanned the e-mail box on monitor two, and found the usual parcel of messages from admirers in her public account. Her handle, e-sinned, was just her real name spelled backwards with an extra N, but very few visitors to her site figured out that fact. They just thought it referred to her rather amorous and exhibitionist online personality. Those messages would be comprised of a lot of comments about how beautiful she was, invitations to Virtual Reality (VR) sex rooms, and a few weirdo messages, in all probability from young boys just discovering their burgeoning sexuality. Those messages could also wait until morning, there was never anything important in them. Her business account contained at least forty messages from customers for her web design business, but she knew reading those would only make her feel bad. They would remind her of how far behind she was on so many projects, and that wasn’t something she wanted to think about before getting some shut-eye. Her personal mailbox had only three messages. Two were from friends, and one that struck her as being decidedly strange because it had no return address.

With accountability being a legal issue, now that the Web was part of almost everybody’s day to day life, it had become almost impossible to communicate anonymously. If there was no way to verify the person you were talking to, then stores, doctors, police, watch dog groups, and of course lawyers, couldn’t be sure who was on the other end of the connection. The self-control aspect of the Web, went the way of the dinosaur. There was a rating system put in place by each country, with similar guidelines. If you had any content on the Web, you had to get a rating first. It was similar to the way that movies were rated back in the twentieth century. The computers knew who were operating them, and if you weren’t old enough to access a web location, you simply couldn’t go there. If you put content on the Web that was outside of the rating you had, then you were legally in violation of the law, and would get ticketed and fined for each person who accessed your content that shouldn’t have been able to. Renegade sites still popped up from time to time, but it was so rare that it usually made the news when they did. Thus an anonymous letter, was the first indication that this wasn’t going to be a normal day.
It simply read in text rather than voice,

Denise,

You MUST keep your lunch date today. I won’t be there, but somebody will be watching.

The hairs on the back of her neck stood up, as she read the message over and over again. She was used to being watched. In fact she liked being watched, but the fact that somebody knew about her lunch date with an old girlfriend, was hitting too close to home. Michelle, her old friend, wasn’t really a close friend. Actually, they hadn’t spoken except by e-mail for over a year now. Denise had not gotten over her stealing her previous boyfriend. That was why she was deliberately going to miss the lunch date. She didn’t even know why she accepted Michelle’s invitation. Surely, Michelle must have told somebody about their lunch date. That was the only logical explanation, right?

It was like somebody had put ants in her head. She knew that Michelle must have told somebody about it, but it just didn’t feel that way. She had learned to rely on her intuition, because it had paid off too many times. Besides, a plus two ESP rating was proof that she had advanced psychic skills. Zero was the average, and plus five the maximum. The fact that the plus two was in empathy and not in prediction, never swayed her confidence in her intuition.

The message wasn’t a threat in any way, but she didn’t like people being that close. She could run naked and have sex in front of gawking geeks sitting in front of their computer screens, because she didn’t have to deal with them on a personal basis. She didn’t have to see them, to hear them, to smell them, or to even realize they were there. She made it a hard fast rule not to turn on the view back to the surfers to her site, when she was being kinky. The last thing she wanted to do was watch; boys and old men masturbate. It would distract her from the task at hand. Besides, then it would be interactive, and she was just putting on a show, she did NOT want interactive. She did not like the trend of meeting people online. Okay, so the majority of people telecommute to work now. Great, the pollution from cars had decreased, and there was actually a stabilization of the global warming pattern. That didn’t mean she had to give up her reliance on how her body and mind reacted to people. Letting her know if she liked them or not. You just can’t do that through a computer screen or voice e-mail message. It was too easy to fake her out. She had met her first love online, and he destroyed her. She would never make that mistake again.

The fact that she lived online now, and only left the sanctuary of her workstation to go to bars when she dumped her ever increasing list of boyfriends, to find another, didn’t cross her mind. At the age of twenty-four, she had had well over thirty live-in lovers. Not even counting the one night stands, to narrow the field to whom she thought she could live with. They didn’t last much over a month in most cases. Her first love, Tobias, she met when she was sixteen. He was twenty at that time. He seemed like an escape for her from the tedium of her life, and the constant nagging of her mother. She really did hate her mother; not realizing that it was the things in herself that were like her mother that she hated. Tobias, on the other hand, seemed to accept her for herself. She knew she was stunningly beautiful, even though she didn’t feel that way, because of the way that men reacted to her. The stuttering and shuffling of feet, the absence of looking directly at her, and the lame topics of discussion were classic symptoms of the unease she caused in men. Tobias, seemed just the opposite. He was self confident, and interested in her intelligence rather than her looks. Or so it seemed. It took only three months for her to get up the courage to turn her back on her mother and move in with Tobias. There were threats of police and charges of statutory rape, but in the end, her mother was actually glad to have Denise out of the house.

Why, she wondered, was she replaying thoughts of a man who left her years ago now. Was she hoping that it was Tobias who sent the message? Surely not! He had practically turned her into a basket case. Still, there had not been anybody who had even come close to the two years that she and Tobias had been together. There wasn’t even anybody in the same league, when it came to the feeling that she had for him. She was not trash, and she would never let anybody treat her like trash for the rest of her life. If anybody was going to do the dumping, it was going to be her.

The anger distracted her enough that she thought she would try to get some sleep. It was only a few hours before she had to be up, and she needed to rest. She wanted to rest. She just doubted that she could. She slid back under the sheets with Michael, not even bothering to undress. With a groan, he moved over and relinquished total control of the sheets, without even waking up. Denise tossed and turned for what seemed like hours, but fell into a fitful sleep only fifteen minutes after laying down. The thought still rolling in her head, that she wasn’t going to go to the lunch date. Weirdoes were not going to dictate her life.

Guilt

guilt1280Kate’s head swam as she sat on the floor of her bedroom, with just her pajama bottoms on. She thought she might pass out. Her demons as always were close behind in the darkness. It felt like there was a rock in her stomach, and it hurt. Nine year old’s aren’t supposed to have this kind of anxiety, she thought. But she remembered about all her girlfriends and their problems. In fact, that was what they spent the majority of their time talking about. Sometimes they talked about boys, but that was mostly to appear older than they were to younger schoolmates. Her obsession with boys had not fully bloomed yet.

She was getting too much conflicting information. Kate was trying to do everything right. She truly wanted to make her parents proud and live up to the expectations of her teachers. She wanted to live a righteous life, help others and go to heaven. She knew she wasn’t perfect, and she certainly didn’t want to be a “little miss goody two shoes”. That was just uncool.

Kate had just reached that age where you start to question the absolute authority of your parents and realize that your parents are not “always” right. But so many of her own experiences were starting to conflict with what she was taught at the School of Saint Mary Magdalene by the sisters, and even what her parents told her to a lesser extent. She felt that she could dodge most of the mortal sins, because you had to know it was seriously wrong and still go ahead and do it. Especially where the ten commandments were concerned. She might skirt the edges of false witness with some of her “exagerations”. Venial sins were another matter. It seemed like almost every thought, action, or dream was a venial sin. But old Sister Bernadette listed things like anger, getting drunk, being envious, greedy jealous or even being a coward as mortal sins. When the local school bully, Anette came around, Kate got literally weak in the knees. Did that make her a coward. Had she committed a mortal sin? She knew that there were other religions, but it seemed like almost everybody she knew was Catholic. So there must be a WHOLE LOT of them.

What about the times her mother tells her to finish her dinner, “There are people starving in Africa.” She can just see some poor African who is gaunt, with hollow eyes, and plagued by some skin eating disease that leaves the raw meat of his body visible. Kate’s own reality and one that is shared by her closest friends is that only the pretty skinny girls have a good life. Eating the last bit of food on her plate will not help that poor creature in Africa, but it will make her fat.

The knot in her stomach grew tighter and her head started to hurt more. She had been told by one of the nuns that all women are born into sin, because of Eve. Not that she had them yet, but she was told that her period was a punishment from God, as well as pain during child birth. How was she to ever be “good” if in the eyes of God she was already a sinner. When she saw a Victoria’s Secret catalog, she wondered what sort of shape her own body would have when she grew up. Was that a sin to wonder? What about the new initiate who wasn’t a nun yet, but had started teaching at school. It was obvious that under all those robes, she was a very shapely woman. Did she wear things from the Victoria’s Secret catalog? While we are at it, what is Victoria’s secret? Is it that all women are temptresses whether they want to be or not? She saw how older girls at school acted around boys. The pretending to be coy, and the flirting. Was that a sin too?

How is one to know what is truly right and wrong?

Front Lines

frontlines1280As Micki took another drag off of the cigarette, she pondered her seargent’s warnings about it giving away her position. She didn’t care. She was a private in the All Woman Army of the United States. Be all you can be… what bullshit. I’m a private who is the last of my unit, who is lost somewhere on the front lines. Hell, Micki didn’t even know which way her fellow soldiers were. Well, what can I be now…dead? Was it true what the enemy does with the American casualties? Surely the Mexican’s aren’t that barbaric. A mental picture of a pair of earrings made from a woman’s nipples flashed in her mind, as a chill went down her spine.

Micki took another long draw on the cigarette and thought of the stories her great grandmother used to tell. As a child, they seemed like fairy tales. Right now she wanted to believe in Fairy Tales. The one she wanted to believe in now was the one where it was a mixed gender army, but only the men fought on the front lines. Not any more. Her great grandmother said that somewhere in the last century, between the 50’s and 60,s a trend started where more girls were being born than boys. By the time Micki was born, only one in eight births were a boy. Too scarce a commodity to risk on the front lines. It was known that women live longer. When her great grand mother told these stories to her, she was well over 150 years old.

In fact she was alive when all of this started. The beginning of World War III. Back when President Bush invaded Iran, after already invading Afganistan and Iraq. The other Arab nations turned on the U.S. with a combined vengence and that wasn’t even the worst of it. When Bush armed the vigilante groups patrolling the U.S. and Mexican border, and turned a blind eye to the rapes and murders of thousands, trying to sneak into America. Bush just referred to the Mexicans as “lawbreakers”. Mexico at that time was being led by a leftist anti-American leader by the name of Lopez Obrador, who got a closely contested vote declared invalid. It took only a year and a half of this to turn one of our closest neighbors into one of our fiercest enemies. It wasn’t that they were so well armed, but there were so many Mexicans already in America, who sympathized, supported, and carried out attacks. It was like being mired down in guerilla warfare, but in America itself. Bush tried to alter the Constitution to allow him to serve a third term as a war-time president. He didn’t get the Constitution changed, but he did manage to last a year into his third term as he tried every legal course possible, but eventually failed.

It was an old saying, “That if women ruled the world, there would be no more war.” Riding on this concept, and America’s tired acceptence of so many years of war, the citizens of the United States elected the first female President. Unfortunately, human nature is human nature despite gender differences.

Vigilance

vigilance1280Ever guarded, busy always,
Keeps away the foggy haze.
Demons dance, but not in my head.
All emotions, now are dead.

As the wind whipped the stinging rain against his face, he pulled the overcoat even closer around his neck, and leaned into the wind. He ran toward the modern building that was the home office for GateOS Corporation. He was careful to avoid the cracks in the road, and later on the sidewalk, not because he was superstitious, but because it made him feel uneasy. The rain had turned the parking lot into a giant reflecting pool, which made the task even harder. He glanced around the parking lot, not really expecting to see anybody, since it was still the wee hours of Monday. He was not disappointed that he was alone there at complex. He liked arriving before everybody else. He liked being alone. His boss thought he was a very diligent worker, which was fine. It kept the boss out of his way, and off of his back. It had taken three years to move high enough in the company to get out of the peasant level of cubicles and into his own office, his private sanctuary. His home. Not that cracker box that he had to leave his sanctuary to sleep. He tried not to sleep any more than he had to. Sleep was not a restful thing; it was a cursed journey that his body put him through from time to time. That was behind him now. The forced day off of the Sabbath, was over. He could return. The glow from the light in the parking lot guided him to the entrance, which was like the warmth of a hearth on a snowy night, to him.

He approached the entrance and placed his hand on the security pad. The retina scans of old movies had given way to the much cheaper and more accurate handprint scans. He wondered if the cold had permeated his hand enough to affect his entry. It was temperature sensitive. That made him happy. Nobody would be cutting off his hand and placing it on the pad to gain access to his sanctuary. The pale blue light moved below the glass his hand was placed on, and a sharp buzz signaled that the door would be unlocked for ten seconds. He grabbed the handle of the door, and winced as the dampness of the rain almost made his hand slip. Mustn’t slip, he thought, mustn’t slip.

The obligatory human guard dozed at the console of security monitors that spread themselves out like a pilot’s cockpit in front of him. The sound of the lock buzzer bringing him back to the world of the living. With a snort and a momentary loss of balance, the guard sat up and grumbled, “Oh, Mr. Randall, I see you are in early as usual.”

“Go back to your reading, Tom.” Was my reply. Thinking instead of how it suited my purpose that Tom was a lazy, shiftless guard. Smiling, I walked away, comfortable in the thought that he didn’t know that I really wasn’t Mr. Randall.

Every time that somebody called him Mr. Randall he smiled. Not because he was a friendly and outgoing person, but because of the self-satisfaction that his true identity was still a secure secret. The true nature of Mr. Randall was as secret as his identity.

Fairy Rape

fairyrape1280x1024As Nefarium glided the last few inches to the stone landing on the stairs, her wings still, she felt the cool wind blowing across her now exposed breast. Her nipples hardened. Instinctively she raised her hands to cover her exposed breast. She wondered what was happening. She had spent so many hours weaving this dress with her thoughts. Each texture of thread and delicate lace pattern, thought out in advance to create a beautiful gown..

A look of both shock and sadness crossed her face as she glanced across the room, to see the human staring at her intently. What were these horrid sweaty thoughts she saw in the mind of the human. Is what her mother said true? Her mother told her, “Wood nymphs have no place in the world of humans.” Nefarium replied that she had no tree to watch over, as her mother the hamadryad did, and a new tree had not been born in ages. She wanted to see the world before she was eternally bound to watch over a tree.

She had strayed from the comfort of the glen she grew up in, and the company of her kind. She had seen the human creature and was facinated. It had hair on most of its face, muscles in strange places, and a scent that intoxicated her. Nefarium knew it was a male. She had seen male animals of the forest, but never one that had a shape similar to hers. The Dryads were all female. She didn’t know why and she didn’t know how new Dryads came to be. She had been chided by those of her kind as being naive, but now she realized how dangerous that could be.

She had disobeyed all the rules she had been taught, and allowed herself to be seen by the human. She ran from him, but allowed herself to be caught. She grew to a size only slightly smaller than him and they danced for hours in the woods. He seemed to be as intoxicated by her presence as she was by his. He promised her anything and everything if she would go away with him, and go away she did. He brought her to this building of stone, which he called his castle. It was a lifeless thing that made her uneasy, but his promises kept her warm.

Now as more of her dress started to vanish, she screamed and in the twinkling of an eye vanished. She felt violated and used. It was time to return to her home and her kind. Nefarium would learn patience as she awaited the birth of a new tree.

Grounded

grounded1280x1024Nardreght sat behind the closed door practicing the pose she hoped would be the last thing her parents would see, before they were ripped to shreds by the creatures that crouched at her sides. The hand gesture was known across all galaxies by intelligent creatures with five digits. It meant pretty much the same thing in every society. She would pay them back for keeping her from the Senior Prom. Grounded for a cell phone bill that she went over the limit. Didn’t her parents realize the importance of the Senior Prom. If it wasn’t for the Prom, she wouldn’t have gone over her clicks. The make-up, jewelry, dress, and lacey undergarments had to be perfect. Expecially the lacey undergarments. Didn’t they realize the Prom was a rite of passage. A time for all virgins to lose that status. Not that she was a virgin, but her parents didn’t know any different.

Nardreght was starting to worry. Her parents should have been home by now. She worried that the mighty magic she had paid so dearly for would just fizzle away leaving only the dust it had been created from. The spell that summoned these creatures was greater than anything she knew, and was promised to be more than the magic of her parents combined could handle. She had bargained with the wrinkled old mage from the woods across the river. Most didn’t even believe he existed, but she had been determined to find him. Later she realized he had let himself be found because of her youth, looks, and gender.

She told him of her desire to kill her parents, and he only nodded. He asked, “What is it worth to you?” Nardreght mumbled, “I only have ten golden draconians, but I will bring you more!” He told her that her money was not what he seeked. She said, “If it truly will work, I will do anything you ask.” She was mature enough to know where this conversation was heading. Hell, she was about to graduate from High School. He demanded that she dance naked for him with all of her sexuality for two hours, and then she must surrender her virginity to him. She cringed at the thought of his wrinkled hands all over her, and even more of his wrinkled body pressed against her, but she accepted his demand. She had intended to lose her viginity at the Prom, but this was necessary to extinguish the fire of her anger towards her parents.

She dropped her clothes quickly into a pile at her feet, and started to dance with wild abandon to music that magically filled the room. As the music sped up, so did her dancing. The room spun as she did. Her body was bathed in sweat as the dance continued. It went for so long and so fast, she thought she would pass out. In fact she hoped she would. Just as her vision started to narrow to a point, and she felt herself falling, the mage caught her. He passed a vial under her nose, and her senses snapped back to attention. She had thought, or maybe just hoped that the second part of the deal was only a test, that she wouldn’t have to complete. It was not. She hoped that maybe the old mage was actually a handsome young man in disguise. He was not.

Something in the smelly vial helped her overcome her aversion to the old mage. In fact she felt downright “randy”. She surrendered her viginity to the mage softly at first, and then many more times with wilder abandon each time. When he was sated, he handed her a scroll to read. He explained that when she read it, two creatures would be summoned that were mightier than any magic known by the people of this valley. The caveat was that they would only last for thirty clicks and then crumble to dust. Nardreght told him that she understood, and turned to leave. She thought about asking his name, but knew he would refuse, for there is power in mage’s names. Sore as she was, she still hurried home.

Sitting in her room waiting, twenty clicks had passed and her parents still weren’t home. She started to sweat again. Then as if a prayer was answered, she heard the door open and her father call out her name. Nardreght called out, “I’m up here! Would you ask Mom to come up too?” She heard them climb the stairs as another click passed. She held her breath as they opened the door. The male tigerman sprung like he was shot from a cannon on her mother, as the female leopard woman sunk her fangs into her fathers jugular vein. It took less than two tenths of a click for the creatures to rend her parents limb from limb. They never even had a chance to get off a defensive spell. They obviously weren’t expecting the just dessert they were receiving. With the various parts of her parents bodies still twitching, the creatures looked back to Nardreght. She nodded knowing they were seeking release, and they crumbled to dust.

She watched the blood flow in different directions and form several pools as the various body parts stopped twitching. She thought to herself that there is no magic mighty enough to put their souls back into what was left of her parent’s bodies. As she looked past the carnage, she saw a large box at the top of the stairs. It was so grandly wrapped, that she stepped over the pools of blood and flesh to get it. As she opened it, she saw the most beautiful Prom dress that she had ever seen.

Gladiator

gladiator1280Marinda spoke the words in latin, “ave, Caesar, morituri te salutamus” as they had been spoken thousands of years ago. The meaning was still the same. Hail, Caesar, we who are about to die, salute you. All things come full circle. She was the leading gladiator for the Empire of America. Her celebrity made her a threat to the royal line of the Bush family. Over two hundred years ago the seeds were sown for a royal family to rise in the Americas. After George Bush senior was President, and his son George W. Bush served two terms as President, Jeb, the brother who once governed Florida ran for President and won.Whereas George W. was unpopular by the end of his two terms, Jeb was wildly popular. Not since America’s Camelot of the Kennedy family had a leader been so popular. When Jeb’s son George P. Bush ran and won, it cemented the aristocracy of the Bush family.

Starting with George W. Bush, the policy of the United States of America leaned toward unilateral self-interest. The cold war with the Soviet Union had ended and the U.S. was the undisputed world power. Jeb’s popularity started to grow when he annexed Afganistan as a colony. He basically shut down the world heroin trade and was hailed as winning the unwinable war against drugs. He followed that with the annexation of Iraq, which had been mired in a civil war for years. Soon after he annexed Iran, who had been trying to build nuclear weapons. Keeping the oil supplies of Iraq and Iran, he lowered the price of fossil fuel for Americans.

First came the changes to the constitution to allow him to serve more than two terms. After the fourth term of prosperity, the democracy of America was slowly migrated to a monarchy. Keeping with the policy of self interest, and the need for security, the emerging Empire of America absorbed Canada, and then the entire Central and South Americas. There were challenges from the Arabs and the Chinese to the growing Empire, but the missle shield started in the 1980’s had been completed and finding their attacks stopped completely, they soon surrendered. There were flare-ups from time to time in remote regions of the World, but such is always the case with Empires.

As Marinda rose to face Caesar Bush VIII, she took note of the tight smile and forced wave. Things did not bode well for her. She was a first generation gladiator. To placate the masses, the gladiator games had returned. The spectacle of scantily clad women fighting to the death, and slaying men, women, and children who were criminals had overtaken the vid screens around the world only four years ago. She was at the pinnacle. She was at risk. Would the blade of a criminal be poisoned? Would a foe break the rules and use an energy weapon or an old gunpowder projectile weapon? Would it be this match or another years away? Marinda pondered all these thoughts as she turned to face her foe.

Fallen Angel

fallenangel1280Wyvern: “Are you okay?”

Angel: Looking stunned and holding her head, said, “I’m not quite sure.”

Wyvern: “Well you should really start looking where you are flying. You could have been hurt badly.”

Angel: Starting to get a little red in the face and a lot angry, she shouted, “Well, I had the right of way. I was closer to the ground.”

Wyvern: “The rule is the same as it is at sea. All smaller craft should give right of way to larger craft. It is just a question of maneuverability.”

Angel: Getting even angrier, “You don’t own the WHOLE SKY, you dolt!”

Wyvern: “Whoa, cool down little lady. With that temper you might just explode. Are you sure you’re feeling okay?”

Angel: Her aura starting to flash a series of hot colors, “Because you weren’t looking where you were going, I ended up flying full speed into a huge stupid dolt, that is five times my size. I fell to the ground and hit my head. Look, it is bleeding! NO, I’m not OKAY!”

Wyvern: “Are you feeling any evil thoughts? Maybe a desire to worship MY master?”

Angel: With her eyes flashing red, “You idiotic nincompoop! I fell. I’m not fallen.”

The sky was almost blackened by a creature so large that it brought both the Wyvern and the Angel to a speechless state. As it came closer, they could see a tiny cherub astride a full size bronze dragon. It landed only a few meters away, and the cherub slid down the curved wing of the dragon, who had obviously let its rider dismount this way hundreds of times. The angel and the wyvern looked at each other, and in their sweetest voices…..

Angel and Wyvern: Together and almost in harmony said, “Hello Officer.”