Category Archives: Drug Addiction

Nightmare Reflection: 2020 AtoZ Blog Challenge

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Reflection #atozchallenge 2020

 

NIGHTMARE REFLECTIONS

NIGHTMARES FROM AN UNBLEACHED SOUL

The AtoZ Blog Challenge 2020

Writing In Captivity

The AtoZ is a challenge. I take that seriously. Since 2011, my first foray into this, I have changed gears from year to year. I like stretching beyond my comfort zones. Some of it has been well taken in both Stats and comments. Others, like this year, not so much.

I am pleased with what I chose to do:  write 26 Lyrical Poems under the theme title. Write every day in April, except Sundays. I have written poetry before, many well received by the readers. But, I write in that style intermittently.

This was truly a challenging April.

If you’ve followed from April 1st  with Awakenings to Zealous O’er the Seas, you’ve experienced my venting, wistfulness, wishing, observations, and anger through my words. Some I rhymed on purpose, some I just let the words loose.

Every single poem was written with a genre of music or musician’s styling playing in my head. I did not intend to appropriate any specific song; it’s the overall mood they convey and are masters of. I’ve written songs before, but I have no knowledge of musical notation and I don’t play a musical instrument. I hear it inside and then turn to someone to collaborate with. From humming it out, setting the beats (as I see them), hearing it played,  gets me going. Seeing how the meter is off from one (or many) line(s) starts my rewrite of the lyrics if needed. Tweaking the piece, scrapping whole verses, you know: first to finished draft.

The music that drifted around me as I wrote the poem daily (I don’t pre-write) is varied:

  1. Big Band/Crooners; Folk music; Rap (as I understand it); Sea Shanties; Rock; Heavy/Thrash Metal; Alt Rock & Alt-Country; Punk; Romantic-ish; Blues; Singer/Songwriter.
  2. Artists:  Tom Waits; Leonard Cohen; The Kinks; Joni Mitchel; Peter Gabriel; Kate Bush; Sousie and the Banshees; Alestorm; Dean Martin; St. Vincent; later Beatles; Beck; The Clash; The Cure; and others that my mind can’t latch onto right now.

Nightmares from an Unbleached Soul

Why Nightmares from an Unbleached Soul? What does that mean, to you? What do you think it means to me? I asked that question near the end of the month and got one response.

Noor Anand Chawla wrote:

I think your title alludes to the fact that you lay yourself and perhaps your worst fears, bare to your audience, through these 26 pieces. “Nightmares” refer to your worst fears, and “unbleached soul” refers to the absence of restraint and being absolutely honest about your feelings.
Perhaps my explanation is too simplistic? What do you think?

Noor pretty much nailed it. I feel that nightmares go beyond our sleep. They are all around us. It could be people, situations, personal fears, perceived fears, and hurt that you feel has been done to you, or that you have done to yourself.

Noor also got the “Unbleached Soul” part. I would add to that when we follow the crowd, stop thinking on our own (or made to stop), refuse to look at things from another angle = Bleached. Soul or Mind: interchangeable.

Overall, I am a non-conformist. I despise the statement “We’ve always done it this way!” For me, there is no box for me to think out of. It’s been imposed on me time and again. Not my thing. I’m creative. I don’t always follow mindless rules, inflexible, with no desire to even listen to a different POV. Sometimes I’ve done that: those are the times I get headaches constantly and down more aspirin than I should.

Try Noor’s blog (link above). I think you’ll enjoy her writing.

Overall 

I love the AtoZ Blog Challenge. I’ve come across some amazing writers, and many have become online friends. Their pieces are varied from all types of fiction to creative non-fiction to reviews and more. That’s a big part of why I come back.

As I mentioned above, I like a challenge when writing. This gives me that opportunity with the potential to reach well beyond the people who follow me. I’m not hawking for new followers. The performer side of me wants people to want more, for the readers to take what they will from the piece that can touch them &/or make them think.

I am disappointed, again already mentioned, with my stats and comments this year. This was the smallest audience of all my years participating. I went out on a limb, poured a lot of what’s inside of me (as Noor mentioned), and while getting some amazing feedback I wonder what didn’t connect with others. Normally, I’ve had serialized stories that are long in length. I get that. Long posts are sometimes passed over, especially when you are blog hopping.

If I join in again next year, I have a lot of contemplation ahead of me.

Big thanks to Arlee Bird and all the other hosts who worked on this year’s Atoz Blog Challenge. It is obvious how much work they have put in. It shows in many ways.

Big thanks 2, to all of my readers, commenters, and supporters. Too many to name, but know your interaction is priceless.

Stay safe and healthy, everyone.

missionaccomplished

Wounded Hovering: Nightmares from an Unbleached Soul, AtoZ Blog Challenge

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W2020

NIGHTMARES FROM AN UNBLEACHED SOUL

WOUNDED HOVERING

Keep the head down, take in a breath
Arms tight across the chest, hold hold
legs are rooted to the floor, hold hold
Relase stone shoulders, and 
Collapse and sprawl, release
Exhale Exhale Exhale

Walking through a crowd
Stop to find a calling path
Others push past, not perceived
Invisible to all that mill about
Need to scream gets cancelled out
Deep breath in, and hold

Sit at home, so few reach out
The initiator receives no replies
Excuses made feel like lies
While gatherings swirl about
Not a second thought, or third
Deep breath in, and hold

Shutting down becomes the norm
Someone checks in, clouds start to fray
Disconnect. Nothing changed anyway
Find happiness, find joy
Can't take in, they bounce away
Hold breath deep, then exhale

Look forward, but it's a blur
Calls for help aren't heard
Windows beckon to so much more
Stillness seeps inside
Distress and fear halts the way
Deep breath in, hold, exhale

What is superficial?
What is true?
So confused as what to do
Disconnect and hide
Completely numb inside
Breath, hold, exhale

Deep breath in
Hold Hold
Exhale

Deep breath in
Hold 
Hold

Hold

hold

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I don’t care if Monday’s Blue or Black or it makes me hold my head or even if it all falls apart…We’re in the last week of the AtoZ Blog Challange with the letter W.

MUSICIANS, or people who know musicians, hear my call I would love to find someone to collaborate with. Not every one of the 26 Lyrical Poems are winners, I know that. Many will need some tweaking if I take this further. I would just love to hear some, or all of these, put to music. Anyone knows, please email me.

My theme for this year’s AtoZ Blog Challenge is: Nightmares from an Unbleached Soul. 26 lyrical poems during the month of April (no Sundays). It started on April 1st and ends this Thursday on April 30th. After that, a week or two later you’ll be able to find Reflections on the experience. I hope you found new blogs to like and follow. If you still wish to, go to The Master List.

I’ve asked a few questions along the way: what genre of music you think suits the lyrics best? Who or what style of music was in my head when I wrote these? My last one for the week:

  1. Why Nightmares From An Unbleached Soul?  
  2. I’m curious.: How do you interpret it
    1. for yourself ?
    2. why do you think I chose that as my theme title?

Comments are always welcome.

Unto The Dark: Nightmares from an Unbleached Soul, AtoZ Blog Challenge

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NIGHTMARES FROM AN UNBLEACHED SOUL

UNTO THE DARK

Artificial light blazes in every room
The dark is out there, waiting
Things come out wanting me
Looking for their way inside

The blackness wants to be my friend
There is nothing true in that at all
The things start screaming to their delight
I don't know where to hide.

In a rational mind I've been told
That Night only compliments Day
Dismissing the fear I feel is real 
Is that a different platitude?

Light diffused seems to dim
I can barely make out anything
A pounding on the ceiling and the floor
Then all the bulbs shut down.

Darkness steps inside
It instantly invades my space
No longer soul solitude
Wrapping itself over and within

"friends" it whispers along my spine
It brings the lurkers from outside
Blather and mewls turn me about
They're savagely eating at my brain

And I am swept away
From safety and comfort
Tossed into a silent misamas
Lost in my dark thoughts.

As the dark integrates
I disappear. 



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When I get to reflections after April has gone its way I will do my best to “name” the music genre, style, and if there was any one group or solo artist I had running around my head at the time. Anyone care to take a shot?

MUSICIANS, or people who know musicians, hear my call
I would love to find someone to collaborate with. Not every one of the 26 Lyrical Poems are winners, and most will need some tweaking. I would just love to hear some, or all of these, put to music.

My theme for this year’s AtoZ Blog Challenge is Nightmare from an Unbleached Soul. 26 Lyrical Poems throughout April, using the letters of the alphabet as our daily jumping off point. If you want to find blogs that match your interests, check out the Master List.

Comments are always welcome. Why you like the work, or don’t, helps me in honing what I love to do.

Thanks for stopping by.

MINDFUL MONSTERS: Nightmares from an Unbleached Soul, AtoZ Blog Challenge

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M2020

NIGHTMARES FROM AN UNBLEACHED SOUL

MINDFUL MONSTERS

Uh oh. Monsters!

Creeping out from under the bed
Don't turn around; about to eat your head
Running won't save you. Nothing can
Hi Cthulhu. I'm a really big fan. 

Distorted landscapes leading nowhere
Something clawed tangled in your hair
Figures all around but they're only rust
Hell, there is no one you can really trust!

Now you see some faces known to you
No reaching them; feet are stuck in glue
Made from the families up & down the hall
It's coming right at ya, a spikey ball.

Blood is on you, dripping from your hands
No way to wipe it off, wrists are rubberbands
It's infinite dark and it will stay that way
Here come more monsters, comin' out to play

The lights are off, this ain't the norm
Frozen in place, sweating up a storm
A dessicated finger running down your cheek
Vocal cords are locked up, not even squeek

A vibrant E decends into your place
Glowing green & red, vanishes no trace
The door is wide open, leading to more gloom
Only thing driving you is get outta the room

A crowd is pushing, you have no control
Cars zoom around you eating an eggroll
Then a figure jumps over a truck
A clown with a knife, you are out of luck

Running doesn't help, she is right behind
Wraps those arms around you, the circus bells grind
You rip off the mask; You rip off the face
A void with stars drags you in to its place

Thrashing around, tie yourself in knots
Breathing's getting hard, now seeing spots
Heart beast is choking, it's time to fly
Eyes fly open; there's a blue sky

Shake it off, get yourself clean
Time to leave, forgot to grind the beans
Fling open the door, take a step beyond
Then you realize: there is no sound.

Uh oh. Monsters.





Awakenings: Nightmares from an Unbleached Soul, the a2z Blog Challenge

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A2020

Nightmares from an Unbleached Soul

AWAKENINGS

It’s been stumbling along

Eyes open but you can’t see

That everything around you

Everything inside you

Comes crashing into fractured pieces

Pieces

Do you see the big picture yet?

 

It’s a running theme

Encapsulating your life

Even blocked off, isolated

Everything inside of you

Shatters to pieces

Pieces

Is the big picture clear yet?

 

You’ve been in hiding

From stressors outside and in

Tired of yourself, of life

Hit your head against the wall

Smashing it to pieces

Pieces

Can you see yourself at all?

 

Every bit is One More Thing

They don’t understand at all

Platitudes don’t heal the pains

Shred your heart into pieces

Pieces

How much distance till you fall?

Big picture is obscured

Falling into pieces

Shredding into pieces

Smashing into pieces

Shattering into pieces

Pieces

Pieces

Pieces

pieces

Sweep it up until you’re gone.

© Stuart Nager 4/1/2020

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Welcome to a very different attempt here on Tale Spinning for the 2020 AtoZ Blog Challenge.  In the past, I’ve done serialized stories, one-off drabbles (100 words exact), and serialized stories. Yes, I keep coming back to that.

I’m trying something different that will challenge me much more this April.

26 posts, never on Sundays (sounds like a movie)

Song lyrics or Poems or stream of consciousness? I really don’t know at this point. Usually, by the third or fourth-day things start to gel for me, that leads me in the direction it wants to go. Except for lightly writing in the topic per alphabet letter, I never plan where this thing will take me.

Comments left here (below) do help. Please, so I can see them all in one place.

I will take suggestions, but please: more along “have you thought of this?” or “this section: can you expand it a bit more?”  Please don’t tell me what to do. If you’re a friend, you know I don’t respond well to that. Constructive critique/questions are always taken and rolled around my head. Suggestions I’d like; editing, not so much.

First draft. First draft. First draft.

Most of the posts will come from observations, listening, taking in what is being emitted. Some could be of a more personal nature.

Don’t writers usually leave a part of themselves in the work? Not a real question. Just take the day as it is. Please.

It is still not too late to join the AtoZ Blog Challenge. Click on THIS for all the info to join in.

I hope you will journey with me, into the Nightmares of an Unbleached Mind

Thanks

One More Day… AtoZ April Challenge

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One more day.

Follow your dream; The courage found within.

It’s been inside of me all along

All along.

Don’t give up.

Please, don’t give up.

Don’t let me down

It’s your destiny to make it to the end

Now I see the finish line

Gonna finish mine

Set the controls for the heart of the sun

One day more!

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April 1st and the Blogging from A to Z Challenge begins.

26 posts, starting with A and finishing with Z.

My theme this year:

Nightmares from an Unbleached Soul

Song Lyrics and Poetry

Something different from me to you.

Please leave a comment here in the comment section.

Click on the link for AtoZ Blog Challenge; it’s not too late to sign up.

It’s never too late to discover new blogs on a variety of subjects.

I hope you enjoy what’s to come.

Me?

I’m a bit on the terrified side.

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Copyright info for the song lyrics that make up the top “poem.”

  1. Don’t Give Up lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG Rights Management
  2. Strength Courage & Wisdom lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc
  3. Follow Your Dream lyrics © Star Songs Inc.
  4. One Day More lyrics © Alain Boublil Music Ltd., Alain Boublil Music Ltd, Wb Music Corp Obo Alain Boublil Music Ltd.
  5. Set The Controls for the Heart of the Sun (25th September 1967 “Top Gear”) lyrics © T.R.O. Inc.
  6. Don’t Let Me Down lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
  7. Finish Line / Drown lyrics © Walt Disney Music Company, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

Xenopus Laevis: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods:  Final Interlude

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

New? This is a serialized work. Please start on A: A Car In The Woods

AtoZ2019X XENOPUS LAEVIS

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TRANSCRIPTION: OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE

On REDACTED, Bio-genetic Exploratory: Weapon Division Oversight Committee 1 listened to testimony from lead scientist, Doctor REDACTED, of Project: REDACTED.  Administration edited scientific reports; claims of misleading additional reports noted. Determination to follow.

TESTIMONIES

Chairman:           Good afternoon, Doctor. The Oversight Committee has requested your presence today to answer some charges brought up by your superiors. You will answer the questions posed to you succinctly. And deviation from a direct answer, obfuscation, or refusal to answer will not be in your best interests. Do you understand?

Chairman:           For the records, we need a verbal assent. Nodding your head is not acceptable. Again, Doctor, do you understand?

Doctor:                 Yes. I fully understand.

Chairman:           Good. Let us proceed. Can you give the committee, in your own words, a brief, and I mean brief, history of Project: REDACTED?

Doctor:                                 Sir, it is all in the report in front of you.

Chairman:           The gentleman will answer the question. In your own words.

Doctor:                 (sound of clearing throat) Um, In July of 1953, my colleagues and I had published our theories on advanced genetic manipulation, an extension of previous experimentation dating back to 1910. We were soon approached by REDACTED and given funding to make our theories concrete. Um, we set up four labs initially in four equidistant facilities across the country. Variations of climate, geographic settings, and, um, other considerations would give us baselines as we went on.

The first success was in Lab #4 located in Upstate REDACTED. This lab worked initially only on amphibian subjects. Lab numbers 1-3’s subjects were, respectfully, um, Mammal, Avian, and Reptilian. I mention Lab #4 specifically as it was here we had our first breakthrough.

We had limited success with local animals. In February of 1954, um, we acquired a shipment of Xenopus Laevis:  the African Clawed Frog.

Chairman:           What was its significance?

Doctor:                 (sound of clearing throat) We realized these were purer specimens. They had no latent toxicity in their systems. Their environment was nowhere near as chemically polluted as ours. There was little to no resistance to our serums. Um. Reactions were extraordinary.

General:               Such as? In laymen terms.

Doctor:                 Um, General. Uh, well, Subject X-1428 grew, sir. General. Where previous subjects did the same, X-1428 surpassed them. She grew at a controlled rate at first, achieving first the size of an adult German shepherd or Labrador.

General:               (after a few moments of silence) And?

Doctor:                 Um, and in the next three months she tripled in size. Its bone structure was solid; vitals were still in an acceptable range. We then, um, started implementing some work from other labs that we wanted to try out. Zeno was the strongest of our subjects, so…

Chairman:           Zeno?

Doctor:                 Sorry, sir. One of our technicians started calling X-1428 by a shortened version of its genus. It stuck.

Chairman:           Go on, please.

Doctor:                 By this time, there were 18 other labs placed around the country. Various subjects. A wide range of testable theories that complimented our beginning theory and expanding on the discoveries. Lab #21 had success with mental manipulations. Lab #14 succeeded in augmentation. And so on. As Zeno was enhanced, the reports stirred the building of the last three Labs.

Um, uh, Lab #25, when it was operational, requested Zeno for additional testing. That’s where it went wrong.

General:               Explain.

Doctor:                 The sedation used for transportation did not work. The dose was too low, it seemed. What was fine for stationary in-lab work fell far short of the jostling of the transport. From reports, the truck used only got 6.7 miles from our Lab. Zeno woke, broke free of her restraints, and destroyed the vehicle.  REDACTED had been thrown from the cab. He witnessed what happened. Too many bones were shattered; the only thing he could do from the hollow he landed in was watch. Um, and later report.

According to REDACTED’s report, Zeno leaped up and down, capsizing and collapsing the frame of her transport. Her clawed front legs had been augmented, um, if you remember, and she ripped through the rest. Um, uh, then…and, um, well, she ate all on board, except for REDACTED. Afterward, she lapped up all the blood. That is why there weren’t any traces. Of blood. Or bodies.

General:               And the noise he reported?

Doctor:                 Um, this species of frog has no tongue. Hence the claws. They grabbed their prey with extremely strong clawed appendages. No long, curling tongue. Oh. Um, they also don’t croak. No tongue. The noise they make is a very annoying clicking sound. Uh, It was the one thing we didn’t miss when Zeno left.

So, um, she escaped. She made a home at the lake in the woods. When she was hungry or disturbed, she hunted.

Chairman:           This is all very disturbing. Were no controls set in place?

Doctor:                 That was why Lab #25 requested her, sir. They were having success with control and further augmentation models. Their goal was to…

General:               (sound of slamming on committee dais) Fine! Enough. We get it. Tell me, Doctor, why in the hell did all of the labs start using humans as test subjects? That was not in any of your mandates. (Pause for answer). Answer me, dammit!

CIC:                       Enough, General. This was a Need To Know situation. Not in your bailiwick. Understood?

General:              Yes, sir. Loud and clear.

Chairman:           (long pause of silence) Doctor. Please continue your original statement. (pause) Now, Doctor.

End:::::::::

Determination: Doctor REDACTED refused to say anything else on this occasion. He was remanded into custody. Further questioning to resume after Oversight Committee members reconvene.

 

Vanishing Obstacles: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods: Chapter Eighteen

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

New? This is a serialized work. Please start on A: A Car In The Woods

 

AtoZ2019V VANISHING OBSTRUCTIONS

1963

Eddie found Pat ahead and off to the side. He lay prone on the freezing ground, keeping him out of her sight-lines. She slipped, slid, and fell more than she made any real progress. Pat would get up, shake herself, check her bearings, and continue moving.

“Good,” he thought.

After he came back from Nam, Eddie started a personal training regimen. He was “too antsy to sit still for any length of time” was what he’d say out loud, but inside was a different matter. How could he tell anyone how much he missed his training, staying fit, the focus it all gave him? Nam? Pat knew he had had a rough time there. He couldn’t talk about it. She held back from probing too hard. He appreciated that.

When he started, she watched from the kitchen window. Timmy joined him immediately. Debra always looked like she was going to jump in, but she kept backing off. The two of them sat together on the back porch. She saw Debra’s teenage indecision. One day she just began working out with them, Timmy daring Debra and egging her on. Debra finally joined in. Eddie had his whole family working their asses off. He felt nothing was better than this.

It was obvious to him that she kept the training going. Another chip knocked away in his conditioning. He felt something change. He rose and stealthily followed.

Getting within close distance to the main road, Pat fell again, sliding along the ice and into some of the prickly foliage. Eddie froze. Part of him was pushing to go help her; that part caused him to stand, wanting to rush to her side. The compulsion to stay out of sight and seize the target fought against that.

She disentangled herself in a flurry of curses and “Ow”s. If she turned around, she’d see him. He didn’t want to be seen. He wanted to be seen. Something in his mind shifted. Her back was still towards him. The strain was splitting him apart. Something gave.

“Pat,” came hoarsely to his lips, the name drifting towards her on the icy wind.

He saw her start, stop, throw her arms around herself and picked her way forward. Eddie moved as well, the need to conceal himself howling against the need for her. The force of the two opposing actions locked him up, unable to move in any way. Yet, one path was open.

“Patricia. Sweetie.”

She screamed, then glanced back. Eddie the anguish and fear that radiated off of her just before she took off and ran. He heard her scream “Stop,” saw her glancing behind her as she hurtled through the brush and straight into a tree. Patricia fell to the ground. Eddie waited for her to rise.

The last obstruction in his psyche shattered.

Step by step he approached her position. Crouching down, he checked her pulse, staunched the bleeding across her forehead by using the scarf she had been wearing, and tried to wake her. Eddie realized she needed more immediate help. He would have called for a Medic, if.

Picking her up, they trudged towards the Overlook pass. Eddie held her close to shield her the best he could from the wintery wind. She used to call him The Furnace, emitting so much body heat at night as they lay together in bed. He used that to keep her warm, the best he could while waiting to hear for a car heading in their direction.

Finally, the revving sound of a powerful engine came, getting louder as it got closer. It was still out of sight when Eddie carried Patricia over to a tree by the road and propped her against the trunk. He picked up a rock half the size of his hand, aimed, and threw it at the back paneling of the Sheriff’s Ford Fairlane. It hit.

Eddie faded away, erasing all traces of his being there while he found a spot to conceal himself. He heard the Sheriff get out and slam the car door. Next, some choice words as he walked to the rear of the car, stopping and cursing at the new dent marring his vehicle. The Sheriff called out he was going to get whoever threw that damn rock, turning around with continuing threats.

Until he saw Patricia slumped upright against a tree. Until he noticed a growing spread across her forehead. Reaching her, all of his caterwaulings stopped. Gingerly, Sheriff John got her into the back seat of his Ford. Closing the back door and opening the front, he revved the engine, put the car in Drive, and while he sped down the road he called into the town clinic to be ready.

Eddie waited until they were out of sight.

He needed to find his kids and make sure they were safe.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

1968

Debra was not used to walking through the woods anymore. When she moved out west hiking was the last thing she wanted to do. She liked cities. Dangers lurked there as well, but the woods brought back too many horrid memories. She just loved her brother enough to fight her fear. Letting him go off on this wild goose chase alone was out of the question.

Tim took the lead, looking for any traces that would show him someone went this way recently. He’d point out a couple of broken branches, later what could have been part of a shoe print, and these would hurry him on. Debra just shook her head but stayed with him as best she could, sometimes having to call him to wait for her.

Tim’s yelp and leaping back to her scared her. He had the biggest smile which was matched by the glint in his eyes.

“There. HA! I told you!”

“What? Hey. Stop you’re hurting me. Let go.”

Tim dropped the arm he had been pulling and pointed just ahead of them. Deb walked around Tim and saw what he was pointing at. She gawked while he preened.

“It’s huge. The animal print is huge.”

“Look, Sis, look. The pads laid out, the shape of the outline. All bigger, yeah, but we know that paw print.”

“Schatzi?”

“Yup! Told you!” Grinning, he punched her in the arm.

The nervous tension laugh they shared helped smooth out their jumbled feelings. Debra was working hard to hold back from crying. When she looked into Tim’s eyes and saw they were filling with moisture, she smiled as they matched tear for tear.

An extremely large series of barks vibrated through them.

“That way,” she yelled. “C’mon, Tim,” she coaxed as she flew past him. Time caught up only seconds later.

Sounds came from straight ahead, some barking, something else mixing in. It would stop, then continue in another direction. Two more times this happened.

Then they heard an animal squeal, followed by a raging “YOU…” Whatever words followed were drowned out by a series of gunfire.

They both yelled “DAD!” at the same time. They had no time to process some of the difference in his voice. They knew it was his, instant acceptance. Instant fear for what they would find.

Neither rushed blindly into the clearing. They had learned well, training with their father, then their mom after he went missing. Splitting apart, remaining in eye contact, they looked around.

Deb saw it first. She got Tim’s attention through hand signals, telling him to stay but to keep watching. He acknowledged, fist moving up and down: yes. Crawling, Debra inched out of her cover and went to the mass before her.

Looking around, seeing that it was an animal of some kind but nothing else, she beckoned Tim over. Still wary, they began to stand. The beast on the ground began to growl and turned its head towards them.

The growling stopped the second Tim, then Debra came into view. The deep thumping of the tail went wild. With a whimper, it got off the ground and went for them.

Tim and Deb wrapped their arms around her as they were slobbered on by Schatzi kisses.

Tim buried his face into the scruff of Schatzi’s neck. Debra only broke away to take a look. She knew their dog, and the whimper meant only one thing: Schatzi was hurt.

While she searched, Debra took in the misshapen mess before her. She had trouble wrapping her head around the fact that this was their beloved shepherd.  Schatzi was bigger in her legs, wider in the shoulders, but there were hard lumps in various parts of her hide. The left side of her head was really out of whack, along her snout and up past her eye. Taking it all in broke her heart a bit; but…Schatzi. They had found Schatzi.

“Hey, Sis. Check her right rear flank. I think that’s blood. Schatz’ isn’t putting much weight on it. She’s leaning to the other side a bit.”

Tim was right. She found a bullet hole midway up Schatzi’s thigh. Tim removed his coat, took off his tee, and flung it to her. Deb grabbed it, called out “Thanks,” and pressed the wadded shirt onto the open wound.

They began to squabble a bit over what to do next, but two bodies crashing through the trees and bramble startled them quiet.

The two men were in constant motion. Punches flew rapidly. Choke holds were broken, one then the other were tossed around, rolling on the ground, all in a blur of violence.

“DAD!” Again, in synchronicity; this time Schatzi’s angry bark mixed in with their yell.

Tim went for the gun in his jacket pocket. Debra dug the flashlight out of hers: any object could be a weapon if used properly. “Lesson learned,” she thought. Schatzi limped-turned, her barks and growls escalating, matching the ferocity of the fighting before them.

Eddie jumped backward, his opponent’s speedy left jab missing his head.

“Kids. Get out of here. Schatzi…” was too much: he let his attention move from his foe. Debra and Tim winced as Eddie was tackled and went down. They saw that both of them were bleeding all over, the blood mixing so much neither was sure who was wounded, nor where it came from.

It was too sudden: the man drove his knees into Eddie’s chest. He leaned down, got a rock, and brought it down on Eddie’s left hand. He stopped at the fourth crushing blow. Reaching down, he brought up an item that was smeared in blood.

David’s combat knife was in Gary’s hands once again. He laughed in a gloating, hysterical way. Gary took it in both hands, raising it above Eddie’s chest.

“You’ve been crusin’ for a bruisin’, Eddie-boy, for way too long.”

Tim brought up the gun, put his finger on the trigger, and took a two-handed grip as he aimed it.

“Get off of my dad. NOW!”

Gary snickered and gave Tim the side-eye.

“Shut up, ankle-biter. You and sister will be next if you don’t back off.” Schatzi growled even more menacingly. “And your little dog, too. Down, Girl. Down.”

Schatzi began to react to the command. Debra was gearing up to rush the man.

Tim fired true.

The knife was knocked out of Gary’s hand. The bullet passed through both palms, luckily missing the knife handle and the possibility of ricocheting. Eddie threw a right-handed punch at Gary’s throat, sending him tumbling off, choking. Eddie got to feet, wobbling a bit, and placed his left hand under the crook of his right arm.

Debra reached her father first. Tim was right behind her. The tight, tight hug he gave them would have lasted forever if it had occurred at another time and place.

Tim was yanked up and backward.  The gun flew out of his hand, landing somewhere behind Debra. Gary had regained the knife when their attention had wavered. He was still choking, and his left eye was swollen shut from a series of punches from earlier in their tussle.

“Call her off,” Gary motioned over to Schatzi. Now, Eddie-boy. That one-two,” he snarled, seeing that Debra tightly held the flashlight. “Time to regroup for another day, Daddy-o. Follow me, and we’ll see how sharp this blade still is.”

Eddie dead-eyed Gary.

Gary held the blade against Tim as he backed them away.

“Yeah, time to regroup. But there ain’t no group anymore. Right? RIGHT? Tell the classy chassis next to you how you slaughtered all of your brothers and sisters.”

Debra stiffened up. She whispered “Dad?”

Under his breath, Eddie answered: “Not now. Understood.”

She nodded affirmatively.

Tim tried to struggle against the knife pressure but was rewarded with the feel of the blade letting some blood flow.

“Easy, brat. Easy. Hey, Eddie, he’s a fighter. Just like you. You want him? Come find me.”

They were gone from sight before Gary’s taunt was half over.

Eddie turned to go after them. Debra didn’t try to stop him. She walked over and gave him the flashlight.

“Get Tim, Dad. Get Tim.”

Eddie nodded. He leaned over and kissed her on her forehead. He was gone in a hobbling flash.

Debra walked over to Schatzi. “You too, Girl. Can you get Time? Can you follow?” Deb asked as she stroked her dog’s face. Schatzi’s tongue, always protruding, licked up over Debra’s face.

“Yuck, you silly dog. Go. Please go find them.”

Hobbling as well, Schatzi took off after them.

She followed across the open clearing, watching the direction Schatzi went. Once out of sight, she remembered something important: Tim’s gun.

Just as she found it and was checking how many bullets were in it, Debra heard her name coming from the other direction.

“Mom! Will! This way. Follow my voice. Hurray. C’mon. Mom!”

Patricia and Will ran into the clearing and right up to Debra, another earth-shattering hug.

“Tim’s been taken, mom. We have to go. Now.”

Patricia knew her daughter. Shaken up or not, she knew there was more. She gave Deb the look.

Debra deflated a bit. She looked at her mom; then her eyes lingered on Will when she said: “Dad’s alive.”

~~~~~    ~~~~~     ~~~~~

Present Day

The taunting hit them all.

Later.

Poor Schatzi.

There was a car in the woods.

Unraveling: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods: Chapter Seventeen

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

New? This is a serialized work. Please start on A: A Car In The Woods

AtoZ2019U  UNRAVELING

1963

Eddie drove the T-Bird down the southwest corridor. He had his orders and knew what to do. Eddie passed the car graveyard, 19 rusting hulks that were experimented on and failed. They had success with #20-the Chevy Thunderbird that Eddie was riding in. TB was the shorthand all of the Taken used.

Rolling onto a platform covered in artificial grass and, in this case, artificial ice was step one. Eddie put TB into neutral and nodded his head. The nod was the only signal needed by the unseen operator. The Chevy started to rise the 250 feet to the surface. Step two; check.

Activity was spotted in area 12. The capture of new subject material, human or animal, was imperative. Eddie knew why but didn’t care. His last procedure amped up his aggressiveness; the one before cemented his obedience. It was necessary. Eddie was too integral to terminate, even though he slaughtered two of the newer Taken. Gary was Eddie’s focus. They were just in his way. The room was gassed. Eddie awoke again on a slab. When released from his cell, Gary was nowhere to be found.

Eddie was completely in compliance.

The actual ground cover slid silently open, allowing the platform to take its place. The whir of the locking system was quieter than snow falling. Eddie put TB on Automatic, something new they cooked up below. He flipped a switch, activating pheromone dispersal around the and inside the Chevy. The dial next to it was already set to five: the number of scents that would attract most wild animals. Some humans. Eddie got out, left the door open, and moved into the woods.

TB sat idling.  The car radio clicked on, a dial search ran, and a Country station twanged out of the sole speaker. Eddie stopped moving, wanting to turn around, go back and shut it off. Shaking his head, he continued ghosting away, barking a short laugh. TB knew enough to turn off her radio once she sensed prey in the area.

Eddie went roving.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

1968

Everyone was gone. Patricia and Will were on their honeymoon, driving further upstate. Will had never been to the Falls; Patricia had, but she didn’t say so. He was excited, charming, and loving. She patted his knee and moved her right hand to rest on his thigh. Will tried to move her hand back to the steering wheel, but it was back only seconds later. The third time he let it lay. He watched Pat while she stared at the road. She noticed, leaning slightly towards him, eyes still facing forward. Will leaned in, planting a few soft kisses on her cheek.

Later, when Will was the one driving, he got the kisses. Pat was unsuccessful in removing his hand from her thigh even once.

Debra and Tim made sure the house was spick-and-span before they took off. Tim was desperate, bugging his sister over and over, to leave and go search for their father and Schatzi. Debra would just say “Not yet” and continued to clean and nudging him when he slacked off. The garbage was bagged and placed in the bins in the garage.

“Now, Deb. C’mon. Before it gets too dark.”

She looked at her brother. What she saw bothered her a bit. Tim had the same manic look, the same rushing when he spoke, the twitch by his left eye that had finally gone away: this was the Tim of seven years ago. Debra was hoping all of that was gone from his life.

Seeing all that resurface is what drove her to keep agreeing to go with him into the woods. She wanted to keep her baby brother safe as he deserved. Debra wanted to believe her Dad and dog were out there. Wanting did not always mix with the reality of things.

They both donned thick wool coats, even though it was still warm out. Enough of their blood had been shed by the prickly bramble that was everywhere they looked. Tim found old work gloves for Debra. He put on his new black leather ones. Two flashlights, one non-rusted canteen filled to the brim with water, a pair of binoculars, and, unknown to his sister at the time, their father’s old handgun. Tim had kept it oiled and clean all this time. He knew how to shoot. When his mom and sis were out, Tim practiced far from where anyone could hear him.

They set out.

Two hours, give or take, before the sunset and the darkness enveloped the woods.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

1963

Eddie found the Impala station wagon in the ravine. He checked: they were all alive. The need for new subjects was eating at him. Which one? All three? Eddie saw Schatzi in the back. It was too much. The need to bring someone back fought with who was before him. The inner conflict raged inside of his mind. He backed up out of the ravine, not taking his eyes off of Pat in the front.

He went stiff and numb as he waged a brutal battle against his conditioning. The realization of being controlled was the start. A thin crack in the wall they had built inside his mind, but still, it was a crack.

Hiding just close enough, Eddie’s augmented hearing heard their conversation. Hearing it meant it was transmitted to the lab. Eddie didn’t care. His heart did, though. His internal clicking began. Eddie ran further into the woods, his attention wavering until he got the unit to settle down. He stayed, hidden, becoming as still as the bark he leaned against, still able to see the car.

Pat climbed out of the pit, dusting the snow off of her. She found the tracks of the car’s journey and began to follow them. No kids. Advancing, he found them fooling around, Debra ordering Timmy around. Normal. The decision to follow Pat felt like the right thing to do.

He turned and began following her footsteps. He stepped in her indentations, walking only on the balls of his feet. A patch of ice demanded that Eddie had to look for where she went next. As he skated over the icy ground, he realized that he was holding something. He looked down.

His combat knife was in his hand. He had no awareness of drawing it out. He attempted to put it back in its sheath. Eddie fought with himself. Sweat began leaking down into his eyes. He stopped, focused, and finally, he heard the snap that bound the knife in.

The crack inside his head widened as Eddie continued after Pat.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

Present Day

Nothing was as it should be.

Everything twisted upon itself.

Everything waited for things to straighten out.

Not everything did.

There was a car in the woods.

 

 

 

Monday Mourning: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods: Chapter Ten

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

New? This is a serialized work.  Please start on A: A Car In The Woods

AtoZ2019M  MONDAY MOURNING

1961

Monday, December 11th, 1961. Three events mattered that day to retired Corporal Eddie Kelly, Army: Adolph Eichmann was found guilty of war crimes in an Israeli court; JFK officially began a war in Vietnam; and David was dead. His severed head sailed past him, barely missing Eddie’s by a hair’s breadth.

Eddie turned and shot into the woods, looking for anything he could turn into a weapon. The sounds behind him were sickening unto themselves; the wet sound of rendering flesh. The clicking noise grew louder behind him, centering on where Eddie had left David’s body. His friend’s dead body.

Still in combat readiness, Eddie rocketed through the woods making as little noise as he could. He made out a climbable tree to his left. Scaling it with ease, Eddie tested out a viable branch that stretched out towards a different tree. He took a deep breath, steeled himself, and ran across the narrow length, jumping just as he felt the limb start to bend.

Safely across, he duck walked towards this tree’s trunk. The foliage was thick, and Eddie took advantage of this, catching his breath, and giving him a moment’s rest; his mind insisted he replay the events that led him here.  Hopefully, it would help lead him the way out of this.

He met David Fox on his last tour with the Army. Instant buddies from ’56 to ’58. Long hauls for both of them, but they were there in an advisory capacity only, helping train the ARVN Ranger units under their oversight. They met on the transport flying out of the US; by the time they landed in South Vietnam they were solid.

The April 1956 siege and fall of Dien Bien Phu was the reason they were there. The US was ramping up their mandate: get the ARVN ready steady for what they all knew was coming. The insurgent’s attacks were escalating. It’d be a full-blown war before any of them knew it. Eddie and David were well versed on what their jobs were: they went total Boot on the South Vietnamese troops.

Eddie shipped back home a half year before David. He had a wife and kids waiting, and re-upping wasn’t an option for him. It was all going FUBAR, and all the signs laid out it would only get worse. David wanted one more shot; there was a bit of payback in his decision. Eddie understood. Didn’t agree, but he understood.

They connected after David returned, phone calls bridging the gaps in the distance. He’d been up to visit Eddie and his family before. This time, it just happened to fall on a really sensitive day. They were out on a drive in David’s Chevy Bel Air, shooting the shit. David was overjoyed about Eichmann’s trial, having lost too much family on his father’s side in the camps. Eddie felt the news brought some justice to the world. Not enough for all the dead, but it was something.

Both of their moods, though, were slashed to pieces once the car radio was turned on.  Things had been getting worse in Nam: insurgent attacks had ratcheted up in the last few months, and the Diệm government retaliated by decimating the Communists still on South Vietnam soil. Advisory reasoning was shoved aside: the Vietnam War for the US had officially begun.

Thoughts of reenlistment went through both of their heads. Eddie felt the need to break this train of thought. He had previously told David of the weird things going on in the woods a little further on. A T-bird appearing out of nowhere, and then nowhere to be found when it was searched for. Missing people. Smashed cars here and there: not the T-Bird. Never the T-Bird. The few times it had been seen it had always been described as pristine. Bringing it up again got them both fired up, trying to replace the news in their heads and the wooden blocks in their hearts.

Eddie navigated; David drove. They stopped and looked around the few spots that Eddie knew someone saw something or claimed to. First stop was where the Ford Falcon was found. They got out of the Chevy and looked around. There was still enough light left, but it was just an empty space. David found the marred Basswood the car had hit. Eddie thought some dry rot was setting in; he noticed some mushrooms further back in the hole the car had left. Anything that might have been of interest was scavenged in the year since whatever happened, happened.

Next, they went to the outcropping where the Golden Hawk Studebaker was turned inside out. The sunlight was inching away from them by the time they arrived. The four missing teens were still being talked about almost two years gone. Eddie showed David the marks that were gouged out of the rocky ridge. No one could explain it.

The sun was sinking. David looked out over the tree line, the light playing across the leaves, shimmering over the random patches of ice and snow on top of them. A few stars could be seen above and beyond.

“Man, this is beautiful. Thanks, Ed.”

“Davey, we have one more stop, then home to whatever Pat is making for dinner. C’mon.”

Eddie got into the Bel Air, his mood lightening. Just before David opened the car door, he noticed something: there was no noise except for the wind. Strange, he thought.

David disregarded clicking sounds he thought he heard as he got in, shut the door, and turned the engine on.

 

Present Day

Turning around and going for that meal would have been the smartest thing to do.

Would have.

There was a car in the woods.