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For My Girls: Ch 7 Huntress

I think this will be the final installment of my ‘Stories that Will Never Be’.
There are a few paragraphs of Chapter 8 that were written but it does little to nothing in pushing the story forward.
Since this story will never happen, I might as well lay it out for you.
Odin, her grandfather, hates demis. Demigods have the potential to become more powerful than the old gods and he refuses to suffer a demi to live. That’s why she’s kept away from him and ‘managed’ by Thor.
At the end of the trilogy would be the big slap down between young Erica and the grandfather who didn’t know she existed. She’d kick his ass, of course, and although he loses, he’d tell her to finish him because he’d never quit hunting her.
She doesn’t have it in her heart to kill family…so she strips him of his power instead. It’s hard to kill a god when you’re basically a human. She and Alejo run off to make demi-babies and live happily ever after.
At least, that was the plan. Who knows what the story might have evolved into. Heaven knows, the original Hunter trilogy was NOT supposed to be what it became, but, it is what it is.
Anywho…on to the final chapter.

7

I didn’t want to leave his side.

Ever.

I wish I could put into words the emotions that ran through my mind, through my heart…but there are no words for what I felt.

I thought I knew what love was. I may not have centuries walking the earth like my father, but I have had many experiences. Just nothing like this.

I have loved.

I have loved many. I love my father. I love my mother. I love Uncle Thor and I love Tex.

But this? This was something new. I liked it and it terrified me at the same time. This young man made me feel things that I didn’t think were possible. From the moment I laid eyes on his image, I knew there was something about him. I just didn’t know what.

We spent the night walking along the beach. We talked. We kissed. We talked more. We cuddled. We built a fire and lay beside it, talking and laughing and sharing experiences.

We almost missed the sunrise but we sat beside the smoldering fire and held each other while the sun broke along the horizon and warmed us with its rays.

I hated to leave his side but when the sun rose, he said that he had to go and that I should return home. He promised to meet me the following night at the same spot and we sealed the date with a kiss.

I had no idea what was happening with me, but I liked it.

I also had no idea how to tell my mother.

 

*****

 

“You’re what?” She stared at me wide eyed.

“I think I’m in love, mother.” I couldn’t help but smile even though her face was one of shock and disbelief.

She reached out a shaky hand and took the back of the chair. I watched her pull it out slowly and practically fall into it.

“What am I going to do? First it’s coffee, now you’re in love?” She turned and gave me the saddest look I’d ever seen. “All in the same day?”

“Mother, it’s not horrible. It’s wonderful.” I pulled out the matching chair and sat beside her. “He’s lovely and he’s sweet and he kisses so-”

“Oh my god!” She was to her feet and pacing. “You kissed him?”

“It was just a kiss, but it was such a kiss!” I was on my feet again. “It was like our souls were intertwined and-”

“Please stop!” She fell into her chair again, her head shaking. “Sweet baby jeezus, Erica, you’re only a child.”

I froze and stared at her. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “Mother, I’m a woman.” I reached down and lifted my shirt. “See? Bossoms.”

“Erica, stop that!” She reached out and pulled my shirt back down.

Now, I have to be honest. I don’t know exactly why I did that. She is my mother. Of course she knows that I have bossoms. She buys my clothes for me. She knows that I’m…developed. I understand that most normal children at the age of five are probably still pooping themselves or eating dirt. But I’m not your normal five year old. Well, nearly six. But the principal is the same.

As Hildy said, age is nothing but a number.

I watched her hands shake as she turned slowly and got to her feet. She reached for the coffee and I had to stick my foot in my mouth. “You’re shaking enough already. Do you really want coffee?”

She turned and glared at me with such intensity that had the look missed me and struck the wall it would have peeled the paint. “I need something to calm me down and dammit, coffee calms me.”

Things were getting real. She didn’t allow cursing for any reason and she just dropped a D word. Something tells me I should have just mailed her a wedding invitation…if it ever comes to that. I guess there is such a thing as over-sharing.

I sat back down and waited for the lecture on how I was just a child, I couldn’t know what love is, blah blah blah.

When she sat back at the table, she took her time. I think her cup was half empty when she finally looked up at me again. The next words that came from her mouth nearly knocked me from my chair.

“I’m sorry, Erica.”

Her voice was so soft that I barely heard her.

“Mother?”

She shook her head slowly. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have reacted the way I did.” She took another drink and I waited.

“They warned me.” She motioned toward me with her hand. “That you would age very quickly until you reached…this. Adulthood. And then it practically stops. You’ll remain young and vibrant and…beautiful forever.”

I wanted to tell her to stop. That her tone and actions were scaring me. But I’m a huntress. I know no fear.

“They said that you would…grow up. And there was nothing I could do to stop it.” She sniffed back a tear as she sipped her coffee.

I reached out and took her trembling hand. “I’m sorry mother. I never wanted to hurt you.”

She laughed and I could tell it was to keep from crying. “You didn’t hurt me, Erica. You’re right. You’re a woman.” She turned swollen red eyes to me and I saw the tears threatening to fall. “I just miss my baby girl.”

She patted my hand and I wanted to cry with her. I was in such a hurry to grow up and I had no idea how much she cherished the time she had with me when I was little.

Suddenly she sobered and glanced nervously over her shoulder. “You mustn’t tell your father. Or anybody! Do you understand?”

“But father will understand. I’m sure-”

“No! You don’t understand.” She lowered her voice and leaned closer to me. “You were sent to kill him, not fall for him. If word gets back to Thor, they’ll hunt you!”

I nearly snorted a laugh. “But I’m Uncle Thor’s favorite-”

“You’re a tool Erica!” Mother stiffened and glanced towards father’s study. She turned back to me and lowered her voice. “If you don’t do as you’re told, you will be removed. Do you understand?”

My head was shaking. I’m not sure if it was denial or fear. “No, they wouldn’t do that. Alejo’s gods accept him and they teach him the ways of our kind.”

“Our kind?” Her eyes were wide and her hands were trembling again. “Sweetheart, his gods are not your gods. They’re not your family. Do you think they would stand against Thor and his warriors if it came down to handing you over or go to war?”

I fell back in my chair and I could feel my mouth working but no words came out.

“Sweetheart, there is no sanctuary against the gods. They don’t acknowledge the sovereignty of other gods. They don’t even acknowledge your right to exist.”

She sat back and huffed as she tried to search for the right words. “They hid you from Odin. They hid you from Freya. They know that if word got back to them that you existed, you would be hunted and destroyed. The old gods simply cannot allow you to usurp them.”

“But I would never…”

“That doesn’t matter. They simply cannot allow you to exist. The possibility is too great for them.” She sucked back a sob and squeezed her eyes shut. “I couldn’t bear to lose you.”

“Nor I you, mother.” I reached out and took her hand again. “I can’t hide forever.” My mind raced faster than I could form words. “Even if I killed Alejo, who is to say that Odin wouldn’t order Thor to destroy me?” I stood slowly, my mind in a whirlwind. “I don’t want to die.”

“Then don’t.” She stood and squared her shoulders. I had seen my mother resolute before, but not like this. The set of her jaw was pure defiance. “Do what you must, but you survive. Do you hear me?”

I nodded, unsure what exactly I could do against Odin Alfather. But I knew that if I ever hoped to live in peace, I’d have to be prepared for war.

“I hear you.” I stepped away from her and released her hand. “I love you mother. Tell father that I love him.”

“Be careful Erica.”

Those were the last words I heard from her before I transported myself to Svartalfheim. I stood outside the tree that Hildy called home.

I tapped on the bark above the opening to her home and prayed that she was home.

“Back here child.”

I stepped around the giant oak and saw her in a tiny garden. I hadn’t seen it during my last visit. The great tree that she made home had blocked it from view.

I walked along the edge and watched as she finished plucking a few herbs from the ground. She placed them gently in her apron and hobbled toward me. “I was about to prepare food. Care to join me?”

I gave her a gentle shake of my head. “I’ve come to talk, if you don’t mind?”

“You talk while I cook.” She cackled as she made her way back to the tree. She placed her herbs besides the opening and slipped inside. When she came back out she carried an oversized kettle. “Hang this over the fire and fetch some water.”

I hung the handle from the iron hook then scooped a large bucket of water from the stream. She was already searing meat in the pot when I came back and the smell had my mouth watering. She stirred the meat, searing the edges before adding the water.

“So talk, child. What brings you back to old Hildy?”

“I’m frightened.”

“Of course you are.” She ladled small amounts of water over the searing meat as she spoke. I watched her add a few of the freshly plucked herbs then she sat back and eyed me. “You just discovered the truth and now you are unsure what you should do.”

I nodded. I didn’t know how she knew, but I prayed that she would have answers.

“What should I do?”

She shook her head as she added tubers and vegetables to her pot. “I cannot tell you that, child. That is entirely up to you.”

“Can you tell me the outcomes of a decision? You are an oracle, are you not?”

She smiled at me but there was such sadness to it. “I wish that I could.”

“Do you see any future for me?”

Her eyes brightened and she nodded. “Oh yes, child.  A long and prosperous future.” I watched as she squinted and appeared to stare into the shadows of the woods. “I cannot see how you come to that point though. If I could, I would direct you through to the easiest route.” She shrugged. “All I can tell you is, you will survive. And you will do well.”

“With Alejo?” I wasn’t sure I really wanted to know the answer, but my mouth asked before my brain could stop it.

She shook her head slowly. “I cannot see that. I do not know if he is your future or your ruination. I can only see that you survive and you prosper.”

I sighed and sat beside her while she cooked.

“I don’t think I’d want to simply survive without him.”

She patted my shoulder and gave me a sweet smile. “Nobody can tell what your fate is. Nobody can direct you down the ‘proper’ path.” She sat next to me and took my hand in her leathery palm. “You must walk your own path. If that path leads you to love, then by all means, embrace it and experience it and enjoy every moment you can.”

I turned to her and I felt tears swelling in my eyes. “I’m afraid.”

“I know. And you have every right to be. It’s not every day that one finds out exactly what their life is worth in the eyes of others.” She patted my hand once more then stood and stirred her pot. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned over these many, many…many years, it’s this. Don’t let a chance at true love slip away because you fear the outcome. Embrace it. Relish it. Give it everything you have. Even if that loves dies or is somehow taken from you, you’ll have known what it feels like and it will help to form you into the person you were meant to be.”

Her words brought me peace. She didn’t point me in any direction and say, do this and all will be well, but I felt as though she armed me with enough hope that I could face whatever it was that the gods had in store for me.

If it meant that I had to renounce my lineage and never return to Asgard, then so be it. If Alejo was right and the gods of Olympus would welcome us, then perhaps it was time I went there and met his gods.

What was the worst that could happen?

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Contest Time!

I found a few extra copies of different Monster Squad books and thought to myself, ‘Hey self! If you order just a handful more, then you’ll have a complete set!’ Well, I did and they came in today!

Then I sat here, feeling accomplished, and wondered, ‘Hey, self…what are we gonna do with another whole complete set of books?’ For the record, self didn’t answer. But while talking to the missus, she said, why not have a contest? Again, I was confounded. What could kind of contest could I possibly have to justify a complete (autographed) set of the Monster Squad??

MS1-10

So I did the smart thing. I asked Jess again. She said, ‘Have a contest where people prove they’ve left a review for all ten books, then draw your winner.’

I’m so glad I married someone so smart. A contest like this would accomplish quite a bit. You guys all know that reviews make or break indie authors and this way we both win.  Well…ONE of you will win because I only have one extra set, BUT it’s a COMPLETE set. And did I mention that they’re autographed? That makes them almost worth as much as they were before I scribbled in them.

So there ya go. I reckon I’ll let this contest run a month, have the entrants email me their reviews and toss the names into a hat. Shipping is on me so this one is CONUS only, sorry overseas fans (although your reviews are highly appreciated, too!).

That’s it y’all. Enjoy, have fun and if you haven’t read MS10 yet, give it a whirl and let me know what you think.

Peace, Love and Bacon for all!

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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MS10: The Final Chapter

It’s nearly here.  I’m wrapping up the final touches on MS10 Reckoning and I’m almost as nervous as I was when my very first was published.

This is the end of an era. As I’ve said before, these characters needed closure. The readers needed closure as well. And to be honest, so did I.

I hope this final chapter does us all justice.

Here’s the cover art by Jeffrey Kosh. Once again, he knocks it out of the park!

MS10 update

And yes, dear readers…the Good Guys wear black.

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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For My Girls Chapter 3

And it’s time again for another taste of what will never be…chapter three of Huntress: Of Gods and Men.

Part of me wishes that I had finished this story, but in my own twisted mind, it couldn’t be just ONE story. No, it would have to be a trilogy, just like Sven’s story had been. What’s fair is fair, right?

Anyway, onward and upward. Read on for Chapter 3 of Erica’s story. Please remember that this is the raw, first draft. It’s unedited, unproofed, etc.

3

I opened my mouth to speak and mother shushed me. “Close your eyes. Relive the events and describe it to me.”

I swallowed hard. As soon as I closed my eyes, I was transported back to that exact moment.

“He said that I wasn’t from around there. I told him, no…I was from America. Then I turned. I didn’t expect what I saw even though Thor had shown me what he looked like. He had olive skin, amber eyes, jet black hair and a smile that made me want to smile.”

I felt my mother’s hand squeeze mine and I took a deep breath, continuing my story.

“He said, ‘There’s something different about you.’ I pulled back my hood and revealed my face to him. He was still smiling. Then he asked me, ‘where are you from?’ and that’s when I told him I was from America. He said that he hoped to visit there one day. Then he told me his name is Alejo. He held his hand out to me and…”

I felt the familiar squeeze of my mother’s hand and I knew she was right there with me.

“When my hand gripped his I felt a rush of power stronger than anything I’d ever experienced. Even stronger than when I’m near Thor.” I opened my eyes and couldn’t read my mother’s expression. It almost looked sorrowful. “The strength I felt hit me like a truck, but in a good way. Does that even make sense?”

She nodded and patted my hand. “Go on, Erica. You can do this.”

I closed my eyes again and saw the confusion on his face. “He didn’t know what to make of it either. We were both stunned. I gripped my sword and slowly pulled it from the sheath. He never stopped staring at my eyes. Then suddenly the air crackled with intensity and the lightning struck between us.” I opened my eyes and stared at my mother.

“I remember his eyes. He was just as stunned as I was.”

Mother nodded. “Then it most likely came from somebody else. Could there have been two demigods there?”

I shook my head. “I don’t think so. I only sensed him and he was gone when I got my feet back under me. I searched everywhere, but the pull was gone. Whatever it was that lead me to him had vanished.”

Mother finished her tea and pushed the cup aside. She seemed to consider my story for a moment before she spoke. “I can’t begin to understand your life Erica. Your strength, your agility, your powers…it’s all more than my mind can comprehend. I have to remind myself daily that you were born with these…things. They are inherent. You’ve known nothing else.” She stood and placed her cup in the sink then turned and leaned against the counter. “After years of training to be the best at what you do, you have finally met somebody who could possibly match you in strength, speed…even your ability to fight.”

I had a distinct feeling that I wouldn’t like where she was headed but I held my tongue and gave her the opportunity to go on.

She crossed her arms again and almost seemed to hug herself as she spoke. “I think that perhaps you should speak with somebody who has more knowledge of these things before you make another attempt at this mission.”

Okay, that wasn’t where I thought she was going. Her words actually caught me off guard. I shook my head slowly. “But who? Who could I possibly speak to about this?”

Mother shrugged. “Normally, I would suggest your father. But…” her words trailed off as her mind worked. “I don’t think that even he could truly help you with this.”

“Uncle Thor?”

Mother bristled slightly. She still wasn’t used to me calling him that. Considering how he nearly killed my father before sharing his power with him, I think she still holds that against him.

“No. I think you need to speak to somebody else.”

“Aunt Helen?”

Mother stiffened. “Definitely not.”

Aunt Helen isn’t really my aunt. She’s a witch that my mother was friends with before she met my father. She tried to help my father when he searched for his soul. She also tried to seduce him but he was too wrapped up in Mother to allow that to happen. I think she still resents her for trying.

“Then who could I possibly turn to?”

She bit nervously at the tip of her thumbnail while she thought. “There is somebody.” Her voice was barely a whisper. “I just don’t know if it’s a good idea to even try.”

I came to my feet, anxious to know what she spoke of. “Who, mother?”

Her eyes met mine for the briefest of moments and I saw fear. She dropped her hand from her mouth and seemed to stand taller. “An angel.”

 

*****

 

“No!” I was pacing the kitchen, my mind racing while my mouth continually repeated, “No, no, no. Not just no, but heck no.”

“I’m not saying that you need to work with one, only speak with-”

“You know how father feels about angels. It’s the one thing he drilled into my head from the time I was born. Angels are assholes.”

Mother nodded. “Yes, they are, and yes, he’s right. But they also have knowledge that could really enlighten-”

“No!” I spun and planted my hands on my hips. “Not just no, but-”

“You wanted to know who might could enlighten us. All I’m saying is that an angel could tell you what you need to know.”

I finally calmed myself and gave her that look. The one that she always uses on me and father. I had spent a long time practicing it in the mirror. “And what will father say when he finds out that we went to an angel for help?”

Her face blanched and I’m pretty sure it was what I asked, not the look I was giving her.

“Okay. You’re right.” She pulled her chair out and sat back down. “Then I have no other answers for you.”

I stood over her and stared, my mouth hanging open. Those were the last words I ever expected to hear from her. She always had the answers. She is my mother…who else could I turn to for answers besides her?

Nobody.

I pulled my chair out and sat across from her. “I’m sorry, mother.”

She shook her head and gave me a tight lipped smile. “Don’t be. You’re right. It was a bad idea. It was just the only one I could come up with.”

I felt my hand wrap around hers and I gave her a gentle squeeze. “I’ll figure it out.”

I thought I saw the glimmer of a tear in her eyes as she squeezed my hand in reply. “I know you will, sweetheart. I know you will.”

 

*****

 

The next few days had me trying to focus on Alejo and trying to transport myself to him.

I couldn’t leave the yard.

No matter how much I tried, it wouldn’t work. It was as if he no longer walked the earth.

More than once I feared that the lightning had somehow killed him. Destroyed him…burnt him to dust. But there would have been something left. A body. Ashes. Something.

I found myself lost in thought and wishing I could speak to somebody else who could enlighten me. Anybody but an angel.

I squeezed my eyes shut and screamed internally, wishing that there was somebody out there who could help.

When I opened my eyes, I found myself standing at Svartalfheim. I had transported to the land of the dark elves. I knew the realm as I had trained here with their warriors, but I stood in a wooded land that I didn’t recognize.

I turned slowly and peered deep into the shadows. I could sense somebody out there, watching me. I just couldn’t tell where they were.

I stepped from the mossy mound I stood upon and worked my way down past the hanging branches of the nearby trees. “Who is there?” I called out, hoping for a reply.

“Why are you in my forest, little demigod?”

I spun and faced an older elf. She barely came to my waist and she appeared withered. Her gnarled hand gripped a walking stick and her eyes shone with mischief.

“I came seeking guidance.”

She snorted and waved me away with her cane. “I’m no warrior. Shoo! Go away and pester those who know such things.”

I watched her turn and hobble away from me. I don’t know why but I knew I couldn’t let her leave. For whatever cause, she was the reason I was here. She had the knowledge I needed.

“Wait! Please, wait.” I tried to hurry after her but the branches seemed to reach out and grab at me, preventing me from moving. “Please!”

I watched her enter the trunk of a tree near its roots where the long tendrils gapped and bit into the soft earth below. I pulled at the branches and nearly fell at the foot of her door.

“Please wait.” I stretched a hand out to her. “I need your guidance.”

She paused in the doorway and slowly turned, her eyes narrowing. “Why should I? What’s in it for me?”

I got to my feet as best I could, wiping the damp soil and bits of moss from my clothes. I dropped to one knee and softened my voice. “Please. If I didn’t need your help, I wouldn’t have come here.”

She seemed to assess me with cautious reserve. She stepped back out from her door and sat on one of the great roots that created the entrance to her tree home. “You didn’t answer my question. What’s in it for me?”

I couldn’t think of an answer for her. What could I possibly offer her? I shrugged as I sat down. “I don’t know. I’m not sure what I can offer.”

She tilted her head and her eyes narrowed again. “You come asking for my help but offer nothing in return?” She snorted with derision and I could see her jaw working.

“What would you like?” I held my hands out to her. “I have little, but please, tell me what you desire.”

“You cannot give me what I desire.” Her eyes grew sad and for a moment I wanted nothing more than to grant her wish.

“Tell me. I might be able-”

“My son!” Her voice cracked as she yelled at me. “Bring him back from the dead. That’s what I want.”

I was stunned. I had always thought of the nine realms as the afterlife. Everybody’s afterlife. The land of the gods. I assumed that the elves here were…already dead. Wasn’t this their version of Valhalla as well?

I opened my mouth to speak but my tongue couldn’t form words. I slowly reached out and placed a hand on her shoulder. “What happened?”

She wiped at her eyes and avoided my gaze. “He went to battle for the Elf King. He never returned.”

“When was this?”

She shook her head and turned her eyes to the tree canopy above. “Who can say? Many lifetimes ago.”

I crossed my legs and sat quietly. I didn’t know what else to do but let her talk and share her feelings. I knew I had to pay homage to her pain and pay attention to her words.

“What was he like?”

She smiled gently to herself as she focused on her lost child. “He was a smith. Not a good one, mind you, but when he was home, I convinced him that his work was beyond compare.” She sniffed at an unshed tear and wiped at her eyes. “But then the king sent his men to collect all males of age. Dabner was of age and he had a skill that the warrior class could utilize. He was taken and I never heard from him again.”

I didn’t want to appear overly optimistic, but I had to ask. “Is there a chance he survived the battle?”

She shrugged. “I would think he’d return home had he been able.”

I gave her a soft smile. “Perhaps he found a woman. Made a family?”

Her eyes turned even more sad. “And he wouldn’t want to share his newfound happiness with his only mother?”

Dammit. I need to think things through before I open my mouth.

“You’re right, of course. I’m sorry. I was only…”

“You were hoping to soften the blow of his being gone.” She reached out and patted my arm with her withered hand. “I appreciate the thought.”

She spoke of Dabner’s early days. How he had only begun learning his trade from his father when he passed. Dabner had to learn on his own from there. How he was really a horrible blacksmith but he truly put his heart into everything he tried to create.

She told me how she had spied on him as he sat on their stoop and he stared at the stars through the canopy at night. How he dreamed of one day making a name for himself. I watched as her face brightened when she recalled his younger years and how it fell once again as she closed in on that fateful day that he packed his meager belongings and left with the king’s men.

Afterward we sat in silence for a very long time and I dared not speak lest I say something inappropriate again. Many times I wanted to speak a thought that wandered into my mind only to bite my tongue and keep the thoughts to myself.

Finally she sighed and turned to me. “What do you seek little demigod?”

I gave her a soft smile and shrugged. “It seems unimportant now.”

“But you’ve come all this way.” She leaned closer and lowered her voice, “Besides, I have a feeling that you have much to learn.”

The twinkle in her eye was back and I could tell that she was eager to share with me now. Perhaps speaking of her son somehow endeared her to me. I couldn’t be certain, but the air around us seemed less heavy now.

“I have no way of giving you what you want. I couldn’t dream of asking you to-”

“Shush now child. Tell me what you wish to know.” She scooted closer to me and patted my leg. “I’ll teach you what you need. You can…owe me.” I raised a brow on that one. “A favor. You can owe me a favor.”

I nodded hesitantly. “I’m not sure where to start.”

“Let’s start at the beginning.” She braced both hands on the edge of her walking stick and eyed me. “What do you know of the gods and demigods?”

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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For My Girls Chapter 2

I’m sure that if you are a regular reader of my blog, then you know what I’ve been doing. Filling these pages with the dead files from my computer. Huntress: Of Gods and Men was the closest to being finished of all of the scraps I’ve shared. I’ve received messages from faithful readers that urged me to complete the stories I shared, but I’m afraid that ship has sailed for most of them.

Regardless, I promised to share more of this story, so here’s chapter two. I hope you like it.

Chapter 2

I stood on the back porch and focused on the face Thor shared with me. I closed my eyes and transported to a place I didn’t recognize. Rocky shores with crystal blue waters. The sun was just starting to set.

This must be on the other side of the world. It was barely morning in Dallas. I turned a slow circle and took in the beauty of the place. White stucco buildings with terra cotta roofs, tightly packed buildings and beautiful rolling hills. It reminded me of pictures I had seen of Italy.

I inhaled deeply and under the saltiness of the ocean air I could smell mutton, heavily seasoned with pungent herbs and spices. Wood smoke tinted the air and although I had just eaten, my mouth watered.

I stepped away from the rocks and made my way toward the town that climbed the hills. Somewhere in this maze of streets and buildings I knew I’d find the demigod that Thor wanted dead.

I could almost ‘feel’ his presence. It’s very hard to explain. New sensations are difficult for me to put into words at times and surrounded by the ancient beauty of this place, words escaped me.

As I walked, I unstrung my bow and twisted it in the middle. It unscrewed and I tucked into a special pocket that father had sewn into the lining of my long coat. With my weaponry concealed, I felt a bit more at ease travelling in this strange new land.

I had learned a long time ago that people often fear strangers. They fear armed strangers even more. Keeping my weapons hidden from their view set them more at ease and kept me from having to transport away from threats. Oh, and people fear strangers who can disappear in the blink of an eye, too. Trust me on that.

Unlike my father, I prefer not to take the lives of an innocent simply because they react out of fear. Father would cleave their head from their neck and not think twice of it. Well, in his younger years. Since he gained the power of Thor, he’s mellowed significantly.

I was somewhat surprised that the streets seemed deserted until I realized, most were inside either eating or preparing their evening meal. The variety of aromas that greeted me made me want to savor each new dish.

I was standing in the middle of the road enjoying the succulent smells when I heard two men approach. I spun and saw them as they walked down the road, smiling and joking amongst themselves. They had yet to notice me and their gate was unhurried but determined.

Both wore plain white cotton garments and no shoes. Their short black hair and dark eyes reminded me of my prey, but neither man was him. When they finally noticed me, one nearly stopped, his arm extended out and catching his partner’s attention. He hooked his chin toward me and both men stopped in the road and stared.

I must have looked completely foreign to them. Dressed in black leather pants, black boots and a black long coat in this obviously warm climate. My reddish-yellow hair and blue eyes must have stood out as well.

They both smiled and slowly approached. The one who noticed me first held a hand in the air and yelled to me. “Are you lost, miss?”

I shook my head. They spoke a language I had never heard before but part of being a demigod is that I speak all languages. Fluently.

“No. I am where I need to be.” I returned their smile and the two seemed to shake off any suspicions they might have harbored.

“You do not look like you are from here.” The men approached and stopped just feet from me.

“I’m not.”

They both looked to me expectantly and I realized, they must wish that I explain my presence. I tried to think of a convincing lie but unlike my father, lies do not come as easily to me as they do him.

“I am looking for a boy.” I judged them to be slightly older so the word ‘boy’ seemed more appropriate. “He’s a young man, really. Younger than you, but similar features.”

The first man laughed and prodded his friend. “We all share the same features in this town. Greeks will be Greeks.”

Ah. So now I knew where I was. I might have guessed Italy, but I was close. Kind of.

I chose to change the subject of our discussion. “Where are you two headed at such a pleasant hour?”

They both gave me an odd look that I couldn’t quite read. Perhaps this hour of the day isn’t quite as pleasant as I thought it was.

“We are going to do some night fishing. Along the beach.”

I nodded but realized, neither man had a pole with them. “Without a fishing pole?”

They both laughed and the other man shook his head. “Nets. We have a small boat with nets along the shore.”

The first man smiled broadly. “You can join us if you wish. Perhaps you will see your friend, no?”

I shook my head. “Thank you, but no. I must be off.”

I was about to step away from them when the first man reached out and took my arm. “You never said your friends name. Perhaps we know him.”

I opened my mouth to tell them that I didn’t know his name, but that little voice in the back of my head screamed at me. How could my prey be my friend if I don’t know his name?

“I wouldn’t want to keep you from your fishing.” I gave them both as sweet of a smile as I could muster. “I’ll be fine. Thank you.”

I stepped away and both men watched me for a moment. As I was about to crest the small rise in the road, the first called back to me, “If you change your mind, we’ll be at the beach!”

I waved my hand at him but didn’t turn around. Something else had my attention and I could feel it pulling me further along the cobblestone roadway. An unseen force guided my steps and I could feel my prey at the other end.

With any luck, I’d complete this mission and be home before lunch.

 

*****

 

This unseen force that pulled at me grew stronger the closer I got to the other demi. I knew it was him, but I don’t know how I knew. It was as though we were connected somehow.

In the back of my mind, I feared that my prey would know I was coming. That somehow, he could feel the pull as strongly as I did. I pushed the thought from my mind but as the pull became stronger, I was nearly certain that he must know something strange was about to happen.

“You’re not from around here.”

I nearly jumped at the voice. I silently cursed myself for not having sensed his presence, or his approach, but inside, I knew it was my prey before I ever turned around.

“No. I’m not.”

I didn’t expect what I saw standing before me. The same tattered clothing as the two men I had met earlier. I assumed they wore such things for fishing and not because they lacked resources. But here he stood. Olive skin, amber eyes, jet black hair and a smile so radiant that I wanted to return it in hopes he would continue smiling.

He was leaning against the rock wall, his arms crossed as he watched me. “There’s something different about you.”

I pulled the hood back and tried to shake my hair loose. I had forgotten that mother had cinched it tight to the back of my head.

He was still smiling.

And, damned if it wasn’t contagious.

“Where are you from?”

I unhooked the top of my longcoat so that I could reach my weapons more easily and gave him my best smile. As I stared into those eyes I wondered if perhaps Thor was wrong. How could they send me to kill such a lovely creature? He didn’t seem dangerous.

“I live in the Americas. But my family hails from Sweden.” I have no idea why I told him that. I could have said, ‘Dallas’ and that answer would have sufficed. Short, honest and to the point. But no. I wanted him to know my pedigree. Perhaps I should tell him that my father and Thor shared the same powers as well.

“America. I hope to visit there one day.” He uncrossed his arms and extended a hand. “I am Alejo.”

I stared at his hand for a moment longer than I was supposed to I think. Slowly I felt my own hand reach toward his.

“It means-”

“He who protects and defends. I know.” My hand gripped his and I felt a rush of power unlike any I had ever experienced before.

It didn’t hit me in waves like when I’m near Thor, this hit me like a sledge hammer. But a warm, fuzzy sledge hammer. It felt good.

It took me a moment to regain my wits and I noticed that he had experienced something as well. He stared at me with wide eyes. I took a half step back and tried to regain my composure.

“What was that?” His face hid a thousand questions and I wasn’t prepared to address any of them. In the back of my mind I could almost hear Thor screaming at me, ‘kill him!’ and it tore at me.

I felt my hand grasp the short sword and I could feel the scabbard scrape against the metal as I pulled it from its sheath. He was staring at my eyes and never saw the silver and gold adorned blade as it cleared my long coat.

He braced his hand against the rock wall and sucked in air as though he had been punched in the chest. His eyes never left mine as I raised my blade and prepared to strike him down.

The lightning bolt that hit the ground between us knocked me back and onto my ass. I tried to roll with it, but it was a poor excuse for a defensive move. I finally regained my footing and took a tactical stance.

Alejo was nowhere to be seen.

I searched the area until I was satisfied. He was no longer there. The unseen force that had pulled me to him was completely gone. I sheathed the sword and swore to myself. Whatever had happened, it had allowed him to escape his fate.

It was time to return home.

 

*****

 

I hated the idea that I allowed my prey to escape and I’m pretty sure it was evident by my foul mood. To her credit, my mother said nothing as I stomped through the house and threw my weapons into my closet.

When I came back downstairs I flopped onto the couch and crossed my arms angrily over my chest. I glared at the TV and it suddenly came on, switching through channels rapidly, the speakers making weird, ‘ooh, eeh, ahh’ sounds as the channels flew by.

With a huff I threw my arms outward and the TV shut off. I was back on my feet and storming into the kitchen when my mother finally stepped in front of me, blocking my way.

“Nope. Not gonna happen little lady.” She crossed her arms and stared up at me, my chest still heaving from the temper tantrum. “You are not going to stomp in here and tear up my kitchen.”

“Mom! I just want to find a snack.” My eyes felt like they were bulging from their sockets and I know I must have been a fright to look at.

She squared her shoulders and shook her head. “Not gonna happen.”

She stared me down until my breathing came under control and the anger faded. I felt emotionally drained when she finally placed a gentle hand on my shoulder. “All of these years of training and they never taught you how to handle defeat.”

My head jerked up. “I was not defeated!”

Her eyes winced at the volume and I forced myself to dial it back a bit.

“He just…disappeared on me.” I threw my hands into the air again and began pacing the narrow space. I realized too late that it was nervous energy I was trying to burn off.

“You need to calm down.” She finally stepped aside and let me into the kitchen. “Have a seat. I’ll make us some tea and you can calmly tell me what happened.” She turned and began pouring water into the tea kettle. “Believe it or not Erica, your strongest ability isn’t as a warrior. It’s as a thinker.” She flipped the burner on and set the tea kettle in place.

She turned and shot me a brilliant smile. “You get it from me, you know. Your ability to reason. To think. To analyze a problem and come to a conclusion.”

I nodded. “Because women are smarter than men. I know, you’ve told me a thousand times.”

“And it’s true.” She set cups on the table and placed the cream and sugar in the middle. “So, tell me. What happened out there that has you so worked up?” She pointed her finger in my face. “And be calm about it. Getting yourself worked up isn’t going to help us solve this problem.”

I took a deep breath and tried to center myself. It was something my father taught me years ago. He said a ‘master’ taught him during a period when he was still adjusting to god powers. He wouldn’t explain further but the practice helped me to calm myself when my emotions tended to run a bit hot.

I toyed with the tea cup in front of me and avoided looking at her. I think I was afraid that her face would betray her disapproval. I know she wasn’t a fan of her only child acting as an assassin.

“So, I tracked the guy down.” I swallowed and tried to think of something to lighten the situation. “Greece is beautiful at sunset, by the way.”

“Oh, so you were in Greece? That’s nice.” She pulled the kettle from the fire a moment before it was about to whistle and poured it into the steeping pot with the tea leaves. “Tell me what happened.”

I could smell the tea once the hot water hit it and I allowed my mind to wander a bit.

“I appeared at the shore line of this small town. It was really pretty. The buildings were all whitewashed and the roofs were all covered in clay tiles.” I continued to fidget with the cup. “A couple of locals invited me to go fishing with them. I didn’t though. I knew I was there for a reason.”

She leaned across the table and pulled the cup from my hands. I watched as she poured the tea and placed it back in front of me. She wasn’t giving me the ‘eye’. She just patiently waited for me to tell my story.

“So, anyway, I could almost ‘feel’ him. It was like something was pulling me toward him.” I turned to her and her face was expressionless. “It was like we were somehow connected.”

She nodded slowly. “Perhaps because you’re both demigods?”

I shrugged. “Possibly. I don’t know what else it could be.” I took a sip of the tea and it was still hot. I continued as I spooned some sugar into it. “I did find him though. I was drawn along this roadway and suddenly he appeared behind me. I never heard him approach. He didn’t make a sound. It was as if he was already there, waiting for me.”

“Did he attack you?”

I shook my head. “No. Quite the opposite.” I sipped the tea and placed the cup down carefully. “He smiled at me. He said, ‘you’re not from around here’ and he smiled.” I know my face was twisted in confusion. I could feel it. My mother simply nodded.

“Then what happened?”

I shook my head again as I tried to replay the memories in my mind. “I was pulled into his eyes. They are so lovely. I kept thinking, surely Thor is mistaken. Nobody this beautiful should be destroyed.” I felt my eyes grow wet but I didn’t know why. “I didn’t even think about it as my hand gripped the sword. It was like it was doing it on its own while my head was preoccupied with looking at him.”

Mom sipped her tea and nodded. Her silence begged me to continue and my mind raced back to the incident.

“It was as though the sky ripped open. There was a brilliant flash and I was thrown backward. When I opened my eyes again and could see, he was gone.”

She nodded again and sipped her tea.

“Do you think he knew your intentions and attacked you first?”

I shook my head. “I wasn’t even sure of my intentions. I mean, my hand was drawing the sword and yes, I would have struck him down, but…it was like my body was working on its own and…” I turned confused eyes to her, pleading with her to explain what was wrong with me.

She set her cup down and stretched across the table, taking my hand into hers. “Tell me again what you experienced. From the time you first turned and faced him.” She held a hand up to stop me then added, “Not just what you saw, but what you felt.”

 

And, that’s where chapter two ends.
Keep coming back. There will be more. Young Erica Svensdottir made it to a little over seven chapters before I moved on to other projects.

Still…maybe one day I’ll revisit this strawberry blonde hellion again and finish her story. Only time will tell.

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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End of an Era?

I stayed up last night to write. This is normal. I do it most nights. But as the sun came up this morning and I continued, I knew that I was close. I had to keep pushing. I had to finish.
Monster Squad is done.
MS10 will be the last we see of our military heroes. The story arc is finished. And I have this sense of…well, almost regret.
Here’s my author’s note that I penned between the final two chapters. I guess my emotions were getting the better of me.

As I come to the end of this chapter, I find myself feeling more than a bit melancholy. For these past six plus years, the characters I created in the Monster Squad stories have been a pretty big part of my life. It’s staggering to realize that this whole journey started in early 2012. Had it not been for a challenge thrown down by my wife, none of this would have happened. None of the other stories that followed would have ever been shared with you the readers, either.
I know that I took a lot of time off and almost walked away from this series completely, however the characters wouldn’t let me. They kept whispering in the back of my mind, telling me that I needed to FINISH their stories. They needed that closure even more than I did.
Those voices called to me repeatedly and demanded that they be heard. So, I set my other, newer projects aside and decided to give them what they wanted. Closure.
As this final offering in the series came into being, it literally took on a life of its own. Dangling threads that I had forgotten about entirely began to be stitched into the final fabric and the story took off in a way that I never could have imagined or even dared hope for.
All in all, I’m quite pleased with this final offering to you, the readers. I feel that the characters have found their closure in a satisfying way and the story arcs have come to fruition in such a manner that you won’t feel cheated.
I hope I didn’t fall short.
Either way, keep the faith, dear reader. And don’t forget to check under your bed.
Monsters are real.

Some of you are either chomping at the bit wanting to get your hands on this newest, and lastest, in the series. Others are probably shocked that you hadn’t heard anything about this since I am the world’s worst secret keeper. Usually by now you’ve at least seen the cover or gotten hints about the story.
No. The cover isn’t even in production yet. I’m sure I’ll share it once it is, though.

No, this one is special. It’s the ending of an era for me. I want it to be RIGHT before I hand it off to you, the readers. This one will go through the toughest beta I have first (my missus) and then I’ll hand it off for editing and polishing.

Am I sad? Yeah…in a lot of ways I am.

Am I happy? You betcha! Now I can concentrate on those other projects that I’ve really wanted to dive into.

Will I ever revisit the series…or the characters?
Hmm. That one I can’t really say. Part of me hopes so. Another part of me says ‘never look back’.

Onward and upward.

Here’s wishing all of you Love, Peace and Bacon!

Heath

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Another Dead End

If you follow my blog then you know that there are…WERE a ton of stories that I had started but lost interest in. Apparently, when I un-updated my computer OS from Win10 (POS OS that it is) back to Win8, I lost a LOT of stuff. I’m still finding out just how much was lost every day. Including a lot of the unfinished stories I had.

You can imagine my shock when I go to search something in Monster Squad 9 only to find that…I didn’t have the finished products any longer. All I had was my original draft. Luckily, I don’t delete emails so I found the edited version, but my COMPLETED copies? Nope. All gone.

Anywho, while searching through the numerous folders, files and drives that I keep, I discovered this little nugget. It was started in early 2015 and it was supposed to be a tongue in cheek addendum to the series. Sort of a MS 4.5…something that fit between the two sagas.

The premise was cute (I thought) with each chapter being the ‘Book of XX’ and labeled like the New Testament books of the Bible. You know…the Book of Matthew (Colonel Mitchell), Book of Mark, First and Second Books of John (Jack’s story), Book of Peters (Evan), Book of James, Song of David, Jacob’s Ladder, Sacrificial Lamb, Epistle of Paul etc. The whole thing was supposed to be clinical notes from a psychiatrist who was ordered to perform a psych eval on the unit.

Okay, it seemed like a fun idea at the time. Maybe not so much on retrospect.

Hey…they can’t ALL be good ideas, right?

Anywho, here’s the beginning of that dead story idea.

1

CLINICIAN’S NOTES

As taken from the taped notes of Dr. David Monteith.

I have to admit that when I was sent to perform these interviews, I honestly had no idea what to expect.  My superior gave me an overview of the personnel I was to assess and for a moment I expected someone to jump out from behind a corner and yell ‘surprise’ or ‘gotcha’ or some other such nonsense.  The very idea that grown men would… could believe in ghosts and vampires and werewolves and, well, just about every other creepy crawly thing that we’ve read about in fairy tales simply astounded me.  Add to that the fact that these men not only believed in such things but hunted them?  Let’s just say that I wasn’t looking forward to this assignment at all.

As I prepared for this task, I collected as much data as I could.  No, I didn’t pack my daughter’s copy of Twilight.  Nor did I pack my wife’s DVD of Dawn of the Dead.  I did, however, research the special forces community to find out if, perhaps, mental illness was common among those returning from the battlefield.  I’ll admit, I was skeptical.  I believe that a large dose of skepticism is healthy, especially when dealing with any subject that touches on the supernatural.

As I prepared to board my plane, I realized that my carry-on luggage contained copious books and files on military, weaponry, special forces operators and tactics.  Being a military field psychologist and not travelling in uniform with these items in my carry-on luggage was probably one of the biggest mistakes I could make.  They didn’t look twice at my Military ID, and as I suspected, I was pulled for a ‘random’ search.  I’m proud to say, I don’t have hemorrhoids.  I also have a very clean colon (according to the very large TSA agent with the biggest hands I’ve ever seen).  Oh, and I’m pretty sure I can cancel my proctology exam next year.  Just a word of warning to others who might decide to fly in the future.

Thanks to my tight-assed superiors, I flew business class.  It beat the military hops and I suppose I should be grateful that they even sprung for the flight. Still, the booze was on me.  And I needed a double something after my thorough search.  Seriously, you’d think they’d at least buy you a drink first.  Or maybe pin you.  Wait, do people still ‘pin others’ or have I just dated myself?  Regardless, at $12 a bottle for those ‘shot sized’ bottles of booze, the stewardess…excuse me, the airline hostess cleaned my wallet of $60 and I still had to sit on one cheek at a time for the entire flight.  When I asked for an extra pillow for my ass, she wrinkled her nose at me and told me that they were ‘fresh out’.  Really?  She was handing them out to others like E at a Pearl Jam concert, but for me and my aching sphincter she suddenly has none to spare.  Remind me to cross her off my Christmas card list.

When the plane bounced across the runway (any landing you can walk away from, right?) I thought my lower intestines were going to fall out.  But I managed to make it off the plane and then it hit me.  Good lord, the humidity in this god-forsaken state is enough to choke a fish.  You can feel this slimy substance start oozing from your pores and it isn’t sweat.  No, sweat is simply salty water designed to evaporate and cool your body.  No, this heat and humidity combination caused something else entirely.  A greasy, oily mixture poured forth in such abundance that I had to forego the baggage pickup and run to the restroom to wipe off my entire body.  It did no good.  All I accomplished was smearing the grease around from one part of my body to another.

My superiors tell me to be ‘vague’ when I do these interviews.  Don’t go into too much detail.  We don’t want people to know ‘too much’.  Don’t give enough information that others can figure things out.  Okay.  Fine.  If you ever catch yourself stuck in this special layer of hell, right between Texas and Kansas, during the summer months, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.  You can hear the air conditioners running, but they don’t stand a chance against whatever it is that is happening outside.  Global warming?  Too late.  Global TOASTING.

Okay, enough whining.  I’m off the plane and I’m in one piece.  I should be happy, right?  So, I’m going to do my best to have a positive outlook for the rest of this assignment.  If I can handle this, I can handle anything.  Heck, send me straight from here to Afghanistan or some such.  From the looks of this place, I may already be there.

Bags collected and the guy they sent to pick me up stands out like a sore thumb.  Dressed all in black military uniform and holding a handmade sign with my name on it.  At least he was nice enough to help with my bags.

I’ll admit that the ride to the facility is uneventful.  No monsters or beasties are seen, but there is an awful lot of nothing.  Once we enter the gates, we travel past anything that looks even remotely interesting and wind through narrow paved roads until I’m sure we are about to exit the rear of the military base.  Oh, but no, we stop beside what appears to be an old, somewhat rundown airplane hangar.  I’m almost positive that my driver is trying to pull a fast one when he claims that we’re here and shuts off the engine.  As soon as he does, the heat from outside immediately permeates the black sedan and I’m rushing to get out of the metal sweatbox.

I’m ushered inside and I’ll admit I’m pleasantly surprised.  It’s at least 20 degrees cooler inside the metal building.  Military personnel are hard at work doing whatever it is that they do and I’m escorted to a rear corner of the hangar. I am shocked when my escort leads me to a set of elevator doors.  I wouldn’t have thought that there may be elevators in a hangar this old, but…

My next surprise comes when we step into the elevator and I see the rows of buttons.  Judging by the height of the hangar, it couldn’t be more than maybe three stories tall at its highest, but there are a lot more than three buttons.  When my escort punches the 3 button, I’m once more surprised to feel the elevator go down.  Apparently, things aren’t always what they appear to be.  My escort tells me that he’ll take my bags to my room and I’m met by the commander of this unit when the doors open.  For the sake of this interview, I’ll only call him Matthew.  He’s a very large and imposing figure, but there’s something more to him.  He obviously isn’t keen on my being here, but it’s something that his superiors has asked for and so we’re both stuck with it.

Before I get too much farther into my initial impressions, allow me to explain a few things here.  While it is true that I’m a licensed psychologist, and while I work for the military and am a commissioned officer holding the rank of Captain, I’m not exactly what you might call a stickler for military protocols.  My primary mission is helping soldiers who have returned from the battlefield deal with their issues so that they can either reintegrate into society or be sent back onto the front lines.  That’s it.  I’m not a West Point graduate nor do I have any desire to make the military a career.  In fact, once my graduate school loans are paid off, I’m out of here.  However, with that said, while I’m here, I intend to do my job to the best of my ability.  But now that I’ve been sent here to interview and ascertain the mental readiness of this particular unit?  A unit of men who believe in fairy tales and play with high powered weapons?  This is either the sort of assignment that could make or break me professionally.  People who are this devolved into their own psychosis and have pulled others into it to the point that the United States government is funding their delusion?  I could spend a lifetime trying to delve into their psyche and another three lifetimes writing papers about them.

But, back to the commander of the unit: As I stated, he’s a large and imposing man with a no-nonsense demeanor about him. It’s obvious he doesn’t want me here and it is far too early to tell if he is the key to the collective hysteria or simply a victim.  Either way, I intend to find who or what the primary stressor is that has caused these delusions to take root.  While I have yet to decide which method would yield the best results, I’m leaning toward a series of generic projective testing before delving into the possibility of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  From what I’ve been told, these men are all top notch, trained and well-disciplined operators from nearly every branch of service.  Most, if not all, have gone through rigorous psychological evaluations and while it cannot be discounted that perhaps one or even a small handful could have slipped through the standardized testing, it seems nearly impossible that all of them could have gotten past the string of evaluations that they’ve been subjected to without raising at least some red flags.  In all honesty, I question the validity of my being sent here.

The commanding officer takes me on a tour of the facility and I’m more than impressed.  The sheer scope and size of the command underneath this unassuming hangar is staggering.  Nearly everything that the unit could need, want or desire is contained within the underground facility.  What little that isn’t is easily within reach of the personnel stationed here on the base itself.  From what I’m told, the personnel rarely leave the facility even though they are free to do so at any time.  Some may go ‘topside’ for fresh air runs or for outdoor training, but most find themselves content to remain underground.  The occasional run to the Base Exchange or slip out for a movie isn’t uncommon, but rarely do the men stay gone for long.  Their duties require them to be on call twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.

One by one I’m introduced to others within the administration and the unit personnel.  I’m even promised that I will get to meet a certain ‘contractor’ that is guaranteed to remove all doubt from my mind that ‘monsters are real’.  So far, I’ve yet to snicker or belittle the perceived importance of the men or their jobs, but as the day grinds on, I find it harder and harder to keep a straight face.  The unit personnel and their gung-ho attitude seems so misplaced in light of their perceived mission.

Having lost track of time, I’m escorted to my room and as promised, I find my bags waiting for me.  Being underground, it’s quite easy to lose track of time and with the time change from the flight, it has grown late.  I had a quick meal in the underground galley and was more than surprised at the amount of food that some of the personnel had amassed on their plates.  Some went back for seconds and to be honest, it killed my appetite, although the food was quite tasty.  Somehow watching grown men gorge themselves on what could easily feed a family of five or more and then go back and get more killed what little hunger I had.

Sitting alone in the concrete shell of a ‘room’, I’m actually surprised that it doesn’t feel closed off.  The room is well lit, there is ample space and although quite basic in amenities, the bed, desk and chair are adequate for what I will need during my short stay here.  There is a small shelf and bookcase at my disposal and a locker.  Somehow, I’m reminded of Officer Candidate School.  Except there I had a window and a roommate.  And wood floors, polished to a high sheen.

First thing tomorrow I’ll begin my interviews, starting with the commanding officer and working my way down and through the personnel.  While I don’t want to start out with any perceived diagnosis, as that isn’t really my purpose, I want to at least attempt to go into this with an open mind.  Whatever is plaguing this unit, I want to do my best to help them in dealing with it.

Yes, the world is full of monsters.  I need to help them in dealing with that fact so that they can better deal with reality.

2

Book of Matthew

Captain Monteith: “Colonel, I know that you aren’t too happy with my being here, but I promise you, this wasn’t my idea.  I just want to do my job and get out of your hair as soon as possible.”

Matthew: “Right.”  The Colonel seems stiff but somewhat relaxed in his office.  He’s a well decorated officer and apparently a lover of coffee as he continuously refills his mug during the interview.

Captain Monteith: “So, let’s start at the beginning, shall we?  At what point, would you say, did you start believing in ‘monsters’?”  At this point, the Colonel’s face hardens and he’s somewhat hard to read.  I’d almost think he’s glaring at me.

Matthew: “I’d say around the time my family and I were attacked by one.”  His voice sounds bitter and there is obvious hostility.

“So you were attacked?  Physically?”

“Yes.”  Definitely hostile.

“By a ‘monster’?”

“Did I fucking stutter?”  Okay, beyond hostile.  Time to back up a bit and play into the fantasy.

“Excuse me, Colonel.  I meant no disrespect.”  Time for a new tactic.  “If you could try to see things from my point of view.  I’m new to this whole ‘monsters are real’ thing.  So, if you could just bear with me a little bit.  Help ease me into this.”  At this point, his features soften a little, but there is still hostility in the Colonel’s voice.

“It was my fault.”  His face appears distant and it’s as if he is accessing memories that he’s long buried.  “We had gone camping in the woods.  It just happened to be a full moon.  We were all attacked and I was the only survivor.”

“Oh my.”  This was news to me.  Regardless of what may have attacked them, this may have been the trigger.  If Matthew is the primary for this collective hysteria, and if this account that he’s telling me is true…

“The worst of it is, they didn’t even want to go.  I more or less persuaded them to.”  His voice is quiet now.  His sadness seems genuine.

“So you blame yourself for what happened to them?”  This question may be too soon, but my time here is short.  If he can’t deal with the reality of the world, then the reality of this attack and his perceived guilt won’t matter at this point.

He nods his head, almost imperceptibly.  “It is my fault.”  He’s avoiding looking at me as he recounts the events.  “I thought that if we spent a little family time together that it would help draw us together, make us closer as a family.  Instead, I got my family killed.  I have no idea how I survived, but I did.”

He didn’t snap or go off into the deep end, so to speak, so I push a little further.  “At what point did you realize it was a ‘monster’?  During the attack?”

“No, it was too quick.  I never even really saw the creature.  Just hair, a flash of teeth, claws.  Then blackness.”  He takes a short pause either to gather himself or to recollect his memories.  “I came to in a hospital and the docs kept saying I shouldn’t have lived.  Then my wounds started healing faster than they should have.  They detected a virus and thought maybe I was contagious so they isolated me while they looked into it.  What really threw them for a loop was that I didn’t have any symptoms.  No fever, no sweats, no cramping or…nothing.  At least, not until the next full moon.”

“Then what happened?”

“I shifted.”  When his eyes met mine, I actually felt a shiver.  My god, this guy is good.  He almost pulled me into his delusion.  “Lucky for me, I was in the isolation ward.  Nobody was hurt.  But a lot of people saw what happened and it was filmed.  Otherwise, I might not have believed it.”

“And then…”

“And then they had to make a decision.  Either dissect me and figure out what the hell, or…”

“Or what?”

“Or put together a team of the best that we had to offer and start hunting down these ‘things’ that we now knew were real.”  He seems to be relaxing more and his stature is less stiff.  I can still tell that he doesn’t want to be talking about any of this.  “Somebody high up got in touch with other governments and found out that a lot of them already knew.  They already had teams in place.  We sort of flew by the seat of our pants for a while until we decided to take a look at how some of the other teams were run.  After a few years, we all sort of got together and picked and chose the best of each groups and sort of made it a standard.”

“So you’re telling me that other governments have monster soldiers too?”

“Monster Squads.  They’re called Monster Squads.”

“Okay, so Canada and Mexico and…”

“No, we cover northern Mexico and Canada.  We have a pretty broad coverage.”  Okay, that really shocked me.

“You’re telling me that a foreign government gives permission for armed U.S. military to enter their land and, what?  Fight monsters on their behest?”

“Yup.”  At this point, I’m almost speechless.

“And I suppose European countries have similar programs?”

“Yup.”  Why am I not surprised?

 

And that was as far as I got. Nothing spectacular, but it was the idea of emulating the books of the New Testament that had me thinking it would be a fun project. Now you see why the story died.

May it rest in peace.

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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