The Experiment (a short story for free, you’re welcome).

The Experiment (a short story for free, you’re welcome).

I’m revisiting an old short story today. This story of mine originally ran in The Derby Telegraph across the pond. Since they have taken it from their servers, understandably it’s been a long time, I’ve decided to do what I do now. I converted it to 3 readable formats (epub, mobi, PDF) and made them available to download for free. You can follow to my blog to read a little blurb I made about the experience with The Experiment and follow the link onward from there to download.

Or just click here for those sweet, sweet downloads:

The story is a super quick read (3 pages) and is a science fiction piece. If this sounds good to you, have at it.

Let me know what you think of The Experiment in the comments. At one time I developed a longer version, would you be interested in an extended Experiment?

The incredible artwork was done by David Hitchcock.

#shortstories #ebook #sciencefiction #scifi

Benjamin Little and Bogart’s Opera (short story and opportunity)

A new order came across my phone’s notifications, excited I clicked through to the Fiverr app. Ready to kill a new victim, fictionally of course. To my surprise, the victim was going to be longtime friend (since high school), Benjamin Little.

If you’re new to reading one of these short stories, here’s a quick rundown. People pay me $5 on Fiverr to kill them in a short story or flash fiction piece. From the moment they place the order, I have 7 days to submit to them the finished product–their demise in fictional form. You can learn more and sign up here:

You can download the files (PDF, epub, mobi) to this story at this link. Read it, for free, anywhere and on any device you want. Or keep scrolling and read it below.


The real Benjamin Little, a photo I took of him during a music video project we did together a few years ago.

As I would expect from Mr. Little, he chose crime and science fiction for genres. And because he is a forensic worker for the St. Louis Metro PD, I was able to work with that in the story. But for those who have been reading since the first story (Kat Folland’s Early Retirement), you’re in for a treat because his story crosses over with that one. I can’t tell you how much fun it was crossing some of these stories over. And getting back to work in a science fiction world I’ve been building for some years now.

As a little tribute, mostly for our sake as we have been grieving the loss of a mutual high school friend. He took his life almost exactly a year ago. We had recently been speaking about that, and I was able to reference a fictional character we had written in a series of skits for him during high school. Back then, the character was known as Uncle Vinny, and was a mob boss. In this story, he’s still a mob boss character, but is known as Vinny Bogart. I worked hard to be tasteful, and the reference is small. But for our sake, I felt like it was a way to nod a hat to Benedict.

But enough upfront stuff, let’s read the story. Lemme know what you think.

Benjamin Little and Bogart’s Opera

District 37 was a good place to be forgotten or lost. It was also a good place to kill someone, or be killed.

The United Nations had divided the entire globe into Districts by 2037, China being the last to come over unwillingly to the global government model. With the years that followed, the world became one giant slab of buildings and efficiency. No matter where you went, it was all about everything being the same. At least, that was the theory. But of course it didn’t turn out that way.

Blocks, huge compartmentalized living structures, covered the entirety of Earth’s surface. Elevators gave the ability to travel up and down between Levels, and monorails took you from District to District. It was crude, and with time, the sweetest commodity was sunlight. The higher up you lived, closer to the sun’s rays, the more expensive the cost of living got. This lead to a clear cut segregation between the lower and middle classes, with the lower classes living in the lowest Levels of the Blocks. Closest to Earth, but furthest from light.

The United Nations adopted a crude universal police system named The Order, which was originally a United States federal police force that slowly overtook local law enforcement. Order and Serve was their motto. Protection was optional. Out of the need for more law and order, bounty hunters became a necessary evil. The Order often called upon them for assistance on a contract-by-contract basis. Justice was scarce, revenge was typical.


Benjamin Little was eating noodles in his tiny, one-bedroom apartment when the call came in on the radio. It was a double murder in District 37. The bodies were found inside the elevator system. It was a bloody mess from the sound of it. He shoved one more bite of noodles into his mouth, and then got up and threw his overcoat and fedora on. He grabbed his standard issue Order tablet and burst out the door.

District 37 had been a hell hole of crime for years, and most everyone had given up on trying to police it. This left the criminals to run rampant and make their own rules. And it left it open for people to just disappear into, if there was a warrant out for their arrest.

Benjamin hopped onto the monorail and sat down. He pulled out his tablet and checked the location of the reported crime. He knew he didn’t have much time to get on location and wrap up some forensic evidence before local Order officers arrived and dismantled the crime scene. No one was interested in investigating crimes in District 37. It just wasn’t worth the effort, nor was it as lucrative as being paid off by the perpetrators.

The monorail sped from his home, District 39, and headed southwest into the belly of the beast.


Benjamin found several officers on scene when he arrived at the elevator. He could tell they were eager to wrap it up, but were waiting for a detective to give them the go-ahead. He pushed through a crowd of onlookers. A rookie officer stepped in front of him and grabbed him by the shoulder.

“Whoa, this is a crime scene, bud.” The young officer said to him.

“I know,” Benjamin feigned authority, though he had none in District 37. “I’m Forensics. I need to process this scene.”

“Forensics?” The rookie questioned, confused. He looked about for help, but he wasn’t going to get any. “I don’t know anything about that.”

“It’ll take five minutes.” Benjamin told him.

“OK,” the rookie said, “But you get three.”

“Right.” Benjamin was satisfied. He knew he could have what he needed in two minutes or less.

He stood between the pried open elevator doors. There were two bodies. One male, one female. There was an apparent struggle. It was a bloody mess indeed. But he could tell there was a piece of the puzzle missing. Someone else had been there. He noted also bloody footprints that led out of the elevator and a few feet away. They appeared to stop, and then vanish. Likely the killer took her boots off at this point, to stop trailing blood behind her. He figured a woman, not many men could get around in stiletto heels.

He reached into his overcoat and pulled out what was commonly known in his circles as a Blue Pill. He sat the small, pill-shaped device in what appeared to be the center of the crime scene. He stepped back out of the elevator and connected to the Blue Pill using his tablet. It lit up blue and fired a blue haze upward into the air. It slowly drizzled down and covered the crime scene from wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor. Anything of interest illuminated in blue. Fingerprints, strands of hair, and liquids—such as blood and saliva. His main area of expertise was fingerprints, and it would be the quickest and simplest data to look up without being noticed.

The elevator was covered in finger and palm prints, most of which wouldn’t be relevant. He decided to focus his attention on finding out who the victims were and if anyone had touched them, possibly the killer.

After the allotted thirty seconds had passed, he stepped back into the elevator and used the scanner on the back of his tablet to scan the illuminated hands of the victims. He saved their palm, hand, and finger prints. He found a palm print from the male victim on the forearm of the female victim. But based on its positioning, it appeared he was grabbing her arm, while she was behind him, and with plenty of force. This was likely part of the struggle. He noticed that the male victim had a scarf tight about his neck. It was tied from behind. He loosened it and saw the red markings of a strangling. He shook his head. He looked inside the palms of the female victim and confirmed burns from the scarf while she strangled him. But it wasn’t the scarf that killed him. Someone had a knife. And it was neither of these two victims. The lady who got away.

The female victim appeared to have died from a single gunshot wound to the chest. In one corner of the elevator was a pistol, but it was too large of a caliber for the small wound she had sustained. There was a partial palm print on the left shoulder of the female victim. He scanned it. It was different from the male and female victims’ prints. It was possible this was the killer.

Benjamin glanced at the clock on his tablet. His time was almost up. He peeked out of the elevator before stepping out. The detective had arrived, he was talking with the rookie. Benjamin heard the word “forensics” and knew he was about to get in trouble. But then he noticed someone in the crowd low-key waving to him. It was an old schoolmate, someone from the Academy. He swooped out of the elevator and headed straight for his old classmate. He nodded and spoke up to him. He casually slid into the crowd and joined him.

“Hey, Vince,” Benjamin said. “I’m glad to see you. How have you been?”

“Not so hot.” Vince said quietly.

Benjamin watched as the detective and rookie headed for the elevator. He knew once they found he was gone, they’d turn to look for him. “Come with me, Vince.” He said, and turned around to leave. He took his overcoat off and tucked it over his arm. He took his fedora off as well. They walked away, and he glanced back just before they went around the corner. He saw the detective and rookie harassing a man in a fedora on the other side of the crowd.

“I gotta problem, Ben,” Vince told him. His eyes were darting about in paranoia.

“Have you tried going to the police?” Benjamin asked as they walked further from the crime scene.

“You are the police.” Vince replied.

“Not the right kind of police,” Benjamin said.

“I need someone I can trust.” Vince said. “I need someone that isn’t going to throw me under the monorail at first chance, or sell me to the highest bidder.”

“Can you give me an hour?” Benjamin asked. “I know that sounds harsh, but this evidence locks up if I don’t perform searches on it within the hour. It’s law.”

“That’s good,” Vince said, “I don’t wanna talk here anyway. Too open. Meet me at the Munger Moss Motel, you know it?”

“Yeah, I know it.” Benjamin cringed at the thought of it.

“I’m in room 12.” Vince said and walked away without another word.


Benjamin rode an elevator to a sleazy diner. He found a corner booth and sipped on water while he ran the crime scene prints. The female victim was a bounty hunter, Kat Folland, and listed as online. That meant she was on a job and had not reported in. Her employer didn’t know she was dead on the job yet. The male victim was her bounty, Rancor Wilkes, and complete trash. Nobody was missing Rancor Wilkes. The real mystery was the smeared palm print on Ms. Folland’s shoulder, as it likely belonged to the killer. He either didn’t have enough to work with to find a match, or, in some rare cases, there are Off-Worlders who aren’t in the databases. Rancor was an Off-Worlder, but he had committed crimes on Earth in the past and was all over the databases. The lady who got away was out of his reach. He had nothing to go on. There was no way he could gain access back to the crime scene to hopefully gather more evidence, and even if he could, they’d likely contaminated and cleaned it up.

He sat back in the booth and rested the tablet on the table. Another dead end. District 37 was full of dead ends. He couldn’t stand it. He was about to get a refill on his water, but then remembered Vince. He checked the clock and he was late. He grabbed the tablet and got on the nearest monorail. It took him further into District 37, where a thunderstorm had picked up and was trickling down through the Blocks.

He took an elevator down to Level 1. He stepped off and saw the Munger Moss Motel. It was glowing in neon pink light with a vacancy light in blue. He slipped and caught himself when his feet touched the wet ground. He hadn’t felt earth under his feet in a few months, maybe a year, he couldn’t even remember how long it had been. He slowly walked through the mud, across the monorail tracks, and into the Munger Moss Motel.

He wiped his feet on the rug and shook the rain from his fedora and put it back on. The manager behind the counter spoke out to him, and he just shook his head at him and headed down the single hallway. There were doors to rooms on either side of the hallway. The ceiling was lined with neon pink lights and the doors were white so that they reflected pink. He found room 12 and reached to knock, but then noticed the doorknob was broken off and laying on the floor. Next to the knob was a Do Not Disturb sign. He pulled his pistol from its holster and gripped it within both of his hands. He pushed the door open with his shoulder and found a room in shambles.

He moved around the room, gun drawn, and cleared the little room and bathroom. Not even a bathtub or shower. Just a toilet. He looked over the mess. The bed was well slept in. There was an open suitcase on the table, a makeshift dresser. Clothes were strung about it and inside. But there were signs of a struggle too. A lamp broken on the floor. Broken glass from the TV which had been struck with something blunt, likely a bat or crowbar. And then he noticed a face print in blood on the sheets. They had thrown Vince face down on the bed, his face cut up or bludgeoned from the violence. They likely overpowered him and tied and gagged him before moving him. On the floor below the bloody face he saw a shoe, likely one Vince was wearing. Near the foot of the table was a cigarette butt smashed into the carpet. He touched it, it was still fresh. He’d just missed them.

That’s when he saw the little matchbook with a half moon and the words Bogart’s Opera. He picked it up and looked inside, no matches, but the number 12 was scribbled on the inside flap. Whoever came for Vince took their orders from Bogart’s Opera. Likely from Mr. Bogart himself. Benjamin began to question the wisdom in barging into Bogart’s Opera. It was a hotbed of murderers, rapists, and mobsters. The owner, Vinny Bogart, was a notorious and ruthless mob lord that ruled most of Level 1 in District 37—not an easy task. Whatever mess Vince had gotten himself into, it was not going to be easy getting him out of it.

He wanted to call it off and just toss Vince up for dead. But then he remembered what Vince had done for him back at the academy. He owed him. It was time to pay back the gesture.


Benjamin entered Bogart’s Opera and was met with strobing pink, blue, purple and yellow lights. Loud thumping music created vibrations in the dance floor beneath him. He could feel the beat of the song under his feet as he walked to the bar. On a stage was a group of musicians, rappers, and backup singers. The rappers were alien Off-Worlders and their language was unfamiliar to him. But no one seemed to mind on the dance floor, the music did the talking. He stepped up to the bar and waved the bartender over to him. He had to yell over the music to speak to him.

“I need to speak with Vinny Bogart.” He said to the bartender.

The bartender looked him over as he wiped a glass with a towel. “The boss doesn’t talk to strangers.”

Benjamin pulled out his tablet, used the fingerprint scanner to unlock it and tapped a little badge icon. It pulled up his identification badge and credentials. He showed it to the bartender. “I just need to talk.”

The bartender chuckled. “The boss doesn’t talk to cops who aren’t on his payroll. Scram.”

“You tell your boss that I know he has Vince Cartwright in his custody,” Benjamin said, “And I would like to arrange his release.”

The bartender looked him over again. “You’re really dumb, ain’t ya?”

“Yeah.” Benjamin said. “Just do it.”

The bartender waved a security guard over and whispered into his ear. The security guard looked Benjamin over. He nodded to the bartender and waved Benjamin behind the bar. They went through a door into the kitchen. Once the door closed, the security guard grabbed Benjamin and tossed him against a freezer door.

“You not so bright,” the security guard said in broken English. “Into freezer.” Benjamin stepped into the freezer and took a quick look around. On top of an open box there was a razor someone had used to open it. The security guard closed the door behind them. “We dance now.”

Benjamin spun around and took one quick slice across the guard’s neck and it was enough. He felt the resistance of the flesh against the razor. The guard fell to the floor, grabbing at his neck. In a matter of seconds the guard had passed out.

He walked back into the kitchen, he headed further into the back where he saw a long hallway. He grabbed a young cook by her arm, she nearly dropped a bowl of salad on the floor.

“They brought a man in here, against his will,” Benjamin started, “Where did they take him?”

“They bring a lot of people in here,” the cook said, “I don’t pay attention.”

“This one had a bloody face,” Benjamin said.

“I saw him.” She said.

“Take me to him.”

He followed the cook down the hallway passed a lot of doors of varying shapes and sizes, he couldn’t help but wonder what was going on behind all of them. But he had to stay focused, there was one task at hand. They’d be lucky to get out alive. She took him to a large, metal door. She pointed to it.

“He’s here?” He asked.


“OK, thanks,” he said, “You may go.”

She ran off back down the hallway.

He was still holding the razor, but he didn’t know what he’d be up against behind the door. His gun only held eight rounds, so he’d need to conserve just in case. He grabbed the cold handle and threw open the door. There was a group of men standing around a bloodied Vince, who was chained down to a chair. He was missing a shoe.

“What is this?” One of the men asked.

Benjamin lunged and sliced his neck without an answer, the other men charged. The man fell over onto the ground, choking on his own blood. The other two men tackled him and he lost his grip on the razor. He lost sight of it as it flew across the room. He tried to keep his balance, and not fall to the floor. He pushed one off of him and wrestled with the other one. The guy was thicker than he was in the middle, but it was mostly fat that he had little control over. The man kept throwing punches into Benjamin’s side, as he continued to push against him while bent over. Benjamin thrust a hard elbow into his back, the man lost his embrace and stood up. Benjamin quickly gave the man a few quick hits to his torso, to slow him down. The man was breathing hard and heavy. The other man came running from across the room, Benjamin drew his pistol and got two shots off at him. The first one caught his left shoulder, the second hit his chest. The man fell over dead. He took aim on the man breathing heavy and gave him one to the head. He collapsed, limp.

Benjamin knew there was a slight chance that the music would drown out his gunshots, or that the club was used to the sounds of gunshots. If not, they’d be going up against the Bogart brigade.

He approached Vince and checked his wounds. “You look a little out of sorts.”

“Thanks,” Vince said. “I didn’t expect—”

“I owe you, remember.” Benjamin interrupted.

Vince simply nodded in understanding. They both knew it was true.

Benjamin took the chains from him and laid them on the ground, he took a towel from a nearby table and wiped some of the blood from his face. “Can you stand and move around?”

“Yeah.” Vince said.

“Can you run, if need be?”

“I can gimp along with the best of them, probably.” Vince said.

“When we get out of here, you owe me a backstory.” Benjamin said as he picked Vince up from the chair. “Let’s go.”


Back on the dance floor, the bass was thumping hard and Vince lost his balance. Benjamin caught him with his shoulder and propped him back up. There were a lot more guards than when he had first come through. And they were all looking for something, or someone. He took quick stock of the situation—his gun had eight rounds, but he’d used three already, so he was down to five bullets. The guards were all carrying pistols or semi-automatics. Whatever was going to happen had to happen fast.

“There they are!” The bartender yelled, as he pointed them out.

Benjamin shoved Vince to the floor behind the bar, and took two shots into a nearby guard. His semi-automatic hit the floor, and landed near him. It was pure chance. He tossed his gun to Vince, who caught it. He slid across the floor to the semi-automatic and picked it up. He cocked it and took out two more guards. One behind a table, another directly above him in a balcony. He got up to his feet and went back to the bar for cover.

Bullets were now flying everywhere. Patrons of the bar were stampeding themselves on the way out of the bar. Screaming, chaos, and a lot of moving people gave them a moment. But the guards kept shooting. Customers were expendable.

Bottles of various concoctions were exploding above them and raining down on their feet. Benjamin looked over to Vince and saw the bartender was crouched behind the bar with them for protection.

“Give me that.” Benjamin took his gun back and promptly shot the bartender. “Sorry,” he said as he dropped the gun in Vince’s lap. “You only have three rounds left.”

“Well, thanks,” Vince said, “You just couldn’t let that go, huh?”

“He mad me mad.” Benjamin said. “More than once.”

“That makes it alright, then.”

Benjamin peeked around the corner of the bar and saw the guards were closing in on them. In a balcony above, there were at least three shooters. They were pinned down. He turned  back to Vince. “I’m gonna go to the other end and try to draw their fire. You make for the door.”

“And leave you?” Vince said.

“I remember your combat skills from the academy.” Benjamin scoffed. “I’ll take my chances. Besides, it might split them up, some might chase you out. Be sure to watch your back.”

“Where shall I go?”

“As far from 37 as you can get, Vince.” Benjamin said. “But find me after its blown over, you owe me an explanation for this.”


Benjamin moved to the other end of the bar and positioned himself at the edge. He made eye contact with a guard, but picked him off first. He looked around the bar and saw some had started to turn his way. He popped out just far enough to take a few shots at one of them and fell back into cover as wood from the bar was spraying his face from the bullets hitting it. He looked over at Vince who was grasping the gun between his hands with a rosary and praying.

“I’m gonna give you cover on this next one,” Benjamin said. “Get ready to run.”

“Right.” Vince said. He was panicking.

“Hey, just take a few deep breaths and get ready to run.” Benjamin said.

Vince started taking slow and steady breaths. “Alright.” He turned and got ready to run from his spot behind the bar.

“On three,” Benjamin said. He turned around and checked to see who he would be targeting next. He would take a few shots across them all, to provide cover. Most of the guards on the floor had changed direction to him and were coming his way. That was going to help Vince. “One, two—”

The thunderous sound of a shotgun rang in his ears and its buckshot knocked him out of his cover. He fell on his back, guards rushed him. A rifle shot from the balcony caught him in the right shoulder before he could crawl back into cover. He saw Vince was wrestling to get a sawed-off shotgun away from the bartender. He finally snatched it away and turned it on the bartender. Vince scrambled over to Benjamin.

“You OK, Ben?”

“Do I look OK?” Benjamin said.

“Shut up.”

“Same plan,” Benjamin said. “On two this time, though, I’m not sure I trust three anymore.”

Vince tried to argue with Benjamin, but he wasn’t having any of it. The bartender had managed to spray his left side and chest with the shotgun blast. Benjamin knew he wasn’t going to make it without medical aide immediately, which wasn’t going to happen in District 37—especially not in Bogart’s Opera. He made Vince prop him against the bar so he could just roll out from it to provide cover. Vince turned to head back to the other end of the bar, but Benjamin grabbed ahold of him.

“Hey,” Benjamin said and Vince turned back to him. “We’re even.”

Vince nodded in agreement.



#crime, #crimefiction, #ebook, #sciencefiction, #scifi, #short-story, #writing

Danny Draper and the Aliens, Chapters 1-3

Danny Draper and the Aliens, Chapters 1-3

I’ve had this in my drafts for some time on my blog, shame on me. It’s the first three chapters to a short novella I’ve been working on, off and on, for several years.

The story revolves around a timid fellow, named Danny Draper, who does alien and UFO research in his spare time. In this little story, he makes his first excursion to Roswell, New Mexico. Once there, it doesn’t take him long to find himself tangled in a bit of mystery.

Enjoy and let me know what you think in the comments here, or at the blog link. And what do you think? Do you believe in extraterrestrial life?

#amwriting #novella #scifi #sciencefiction #shortstory

Danny Draper and the Aliens, Chapters 1-3

AUTHOR’S NOTE. This is a story I’m very fond of that explores some things that always interest me in both the fiction and non-fiction realm. Yes, I’m talking about aliens. I’m talking about UFOs. I blame it mostly on shows like Unsolved Mysteries and The X-Files from my childhood, not to mention The Twilight Zone. So, without further ado, I would like to introduce you to my timid UFO researcher, Danny Draper. Continue reading

#alien, #novella, #sciencefiction, #scifi, #shortstory, #ufo

Emily Stuart and the Alpha and Omega (short story and opportunity)

Emily Stuart is victim #6. She didn’t hesitate to be put on ice when I showed her my card for the project at Stone Spiral on a Wednesday night. You can review the previous entries here.

You can learn more about the gig and sign up yourself at this link.

Download the Files

You can read the short story included in this blog post, or by following this link and downloading the format of your choosing (epub or mobi, and DRM free) from Liberio, and then reading in your favorite reader or device. Alternatively, for desktop users, you can download the PDF from here on Dropbox.

Emily Stuart

Emily is half of the band Catching the Westbound, the other half being her boyfriend Andy. They play a mixture of folk, blues and mountain gospel. They’re really good, you should totally follow the link to their website and give them a listen. But that’s besides the point.

image of Emily Stuart

The real Emily Stuart.

I’ve known Emily since about January or so of this year, when I started attending an open mic at Stone Spiral Coffee and Curios in Maplewood, Missouri. She and Andy play live at the open mic quite regularly, and have been subjected to me sharpening my teeth doing standup comedy at the open mic. Emily is loads of fun, one of the few friends I’ve made up here in the St. Louis region since we made the move last year. So, it was with great pleasure that I could kill her*.

Emily Stuart and the Alpha and Omega

Commander Emily Stuart woke from her long sleep shivering and in shock. It was the unfortunate and uncomfortable standard for deep space travel. She rolled out of her open cryogenic chamber and crashed on the floor in her officer’s quarters. She spewed enzymatic fluid on the floor, leftovers from the nutrients that were fed her during her cryotherapy. Her body was sore and stiff. Her vision was blurred, but as it focused she recognized a familiar stain.


She flipped over onto her back, rolled her shoulders and stretched her arms. The muscles hurt and bones cracked. She rocked her head back and forth, popping and crackling sounds emitted. She stretched her neck to the left, and then to the right.

“Omega, play Mr. Blue.” She said out loud to her ship’s artificial intelligence, Omega, which was also the name of her ship.

“Yes, Commander.” Omega said in her calm and gentle female voice. The song by The Fleetwoods began to play. “All systems are checked. All seems a go. How was your cryogenic therapy, Commander?”

“Just peachy.” Emily continued to exercise, she worked her legs with stretches. “Why is there blood in my quarters?”

“I am not sure, Commander,” Omega began to explain, “As you know, I was only running the essentials during cryotherapy. My cameras are just now documenting this as well. Is it yours, Commander?”

“No.” Emily flipped over on her stomach and began pushups. “Do a quick check of the crew, Omega. Is anyone offline?”

There was a silence while Omega ran a check of the life systems connected to each crew member’s cryogenic chamber. Omega spoke up through the intercom system after a short silence, “I have no read on Private Daniels’ cryogenic chamber. Running visual scan of his cryogenic chamber confirms that he is missing. There is a blood trail from his chamber. Give me a moment while I run visual scans of the corridors and rooms, tracking his path. Let me see if I can find his whereabouts. Be back shortly, Commander.”

Emily finally stood up, her bones cracking and aching as she did so. When she stood up tall, she placed one hand over her head and stretched the opposite direction, and then completed the task with the other arm in the other direction. Her eyes were finally cleared up enough to piece together the gruesomeness before her. She saw a trail of blood that entered and led right up to her cryogenic chamber. A bloody handprint was smeared across the controls on the front, as if Daniels was trying to eject her from her the chamber. She saw another handprint that smeared around the side of her chamber. She followed it around to the backside of it and hidden behind it was Daniels’ mangled body.

Emily bent down and examined him up close. He had what appeared to be a large bite of some kind in his neck. Further investigation made it appear as if several bites were taken, and some of his bone was exposed. His torso had been ripped open, and it was his fatal wound. Something had gnawed at his stomach and tore out his intestines. He appeared to be missing several organs. His spine was broken and pulled through from the back, piercing a kidney. It was not an easy way to go. Before Emily had been expelled from the United Nations Academy, she had studied the Jack the Ripper case. Daniels’ condition had a similar grotesqueness to the victim Mary Jane Kelly, who had been carved out and even her breasts were removed and placed on her nightstand.

“Omega, I’ve found Private Daniels.” She said.

“Where are you, Commander? I’m not seeing you on my camera.” Omega said.

She stood up and waived to get the attention of her sensors. “Over here, behind the chamber. It’s a mess.”

A small camera rotated around the roof of the room and repositioned above her and Daniels. “Yes, Commander, that is a mess. Shall I wake the others?”

“Yes.” Emily said. “And check on the prisoner. I want a report on her activity, or inactivity, before I reach the bridge.”

“Yes, Commander.”

Emily stepped into the shower to rinse off the sleep, and grit. She stood, the hot water pouring over her body, and she thought of the possibilities. Someone, or something, on her ship had killed one of her crew and that infuriated her. No one killed her crew. They were her responsibility, and she felt it hard and deep. A strike against her crew was a strike against her. It was as if someone had cut off her limb without even asking her name. Whoever was responsible for the death of Private Daniels was as good as dead.

Moments later with her long, brown hair still dripping from the shower, she had joined her crew on the bridge. None of them were aware of the death of Daniels, unless one of them was the killer. She scanned them with her eyes, piercing, and then finally, she spoke. “Private Daniels is dead.” Everyone began to react. “He was murdered.” She added, louder, over their murmuring.


“Someone, or something for that matter, murdered Private Daniels while we were asleep.” She continued.

“Wait a minute,” Doctor Bond spoke up, “What do you mean by something?”

“The wounds seem like bite marks, and non-human at that.” Emily added. “But that’s not for certain, that was just my immediate assessment. Doctor Bond, I need you to conduct a full autopsy of Private Daniels and give us your verdict within the hour.”

“Within the hour?” Bond replied. “I don’t know if—”

“There’s a murderer on this ship, Dr. Bond,” Emily said sternly, “I’d prefer to know who they were right now, but I’m giving you an hour, tops.”

“I’ll see what I can do, but I can’t guarantee I can conclude an autopsy in a single hour.” Bond said, crossing his arms and legs, a sign of his disdain for her leadership. “Especially, if we’re talking about a foreign and alien species. It could take days, weeks even.”

It was standard practice for the older generation of her crew to toss their weight around when Emily gave orders. It was partially because of her age, she was only 31 years old, one of the youngest commanders in the universe. And her petite size only added to the difficulty of pushing the old dogs around. She wanted to punch him, flip him on his back and stick a gun in his face, but she knew that wasn’t going to get the job done any faster.

Instead, she stood up tall, as much as she could with her tiny frame and spoke through her teeth. “You will do it within the hour, or I’ll have you charged with obstructing justice.”

Bond sighed deeply, he didn’t like being reprimanded and threatened by a younger officer. “As you wish, Commander.” He stood up to leave.

“Wait.” She said, and he turned around with a red face. “Nobody walks this ship without a partner now. Not until we determine who the killer is and have them tossed into the brigs.”

Bond shrugged in disgust. “I don’t need someone looking over my shoulder. Besides, what if you send the killer with me?”

“Then, I guess you’ll have to arrest them.” Emily said. “Or, they’ll arrest you. But as of right now, I’m treating all of us as innocent until proven otherwise.”

“This is stupid!” Sergeant Marx tossed his hands up and slammed them down on the table. “We all know who the killer is, so let’s just march down to the brigs and put us out of our misery by nuking her butt.”

Others agreed.

“I know, I thought the same thing.” Emily said. “It was the first thought that crossed my mind. So, I had Omega run a scan of her cryogenic chamber, and she hasn’t been out since we exited earth’s atmosphere.”

Another silence.

Marx slammed another fist on the table. “That doesn’t prove anything. I hear she can hack, she probably hacked her way out.”

“While she was asleep?” Emily asked. Marx looked confused, he didn’t know the answer to that. “I know you wanna flex those huge muscles, Sgt. Marx, and I’d like nothing more than to pull a trigger on the face of the person or thing that killed Private Daniels myself. But the fact is that we don’t know enough to start blasting faces off each other, and I need you to buck up right now and be a calm and sturdy component of this crew.”

Marx slouched in his chair. “Sorry, Commander, I’m just so… mad.”

“I know.” Emily said. “Trust me, I know.” She looked to everyone else and sighed. “When a crew member of mine is murdered, that chisels at me, and I will out who killed Private Daniels and put that person where they belong. The brigs or out to space without a helmet. Now pick a partner, and man your stations.” She looked to Marx, “Sergeant Marx, take command of the bridge, I’ll be making a visit to our guest in the brigs.” She looked to Bond, “What are you still doing here? Get your partner and get to work. Private Daniels’ body is located in my officer’s quarters, behind the cryogenic chamber. Move it to the medic center and conduct your autopsy. Send your report via Omega as soon as it’s complete to Sgt. Marx and myself.” She looked back at her crew. “We will meet back here at the bridge after Sgt. Marx and I have had time to analyze the data from the autopsy and consider whatever I get out of our guest.” She looked over at the fresh-faced Jonas Smith. “Private Smith, you’re with me.”

“Yes, Commander.” Smith stood up quickly, knocking her knees against the bottom of the table top. She was a rookie and was eager to serve, but nervous to a point of weakness. “Sorry.”

“Apologize to yourself, Private Smith,” Emily said, “They’re your knees.”

Emily and Smith exited the bridge, and Marx assumed command immediately. He barked out commands in a forceful, gruff voice. People scattered to their stations.

Just outside the doors to the brigs, Emily turned to Smith who was significantly taller than her, and most women for that matter. “Have you ever conducted an interrogation on a suspect?”

“Only in training, Commander.” Smith replied.

“Well, then this will be a learning experience.” Emily said. She entered a six-digit code into a side panel of the door. The doors opened, retracting into the walls.

They entered the room which houses only two, small holding cells. One was empty, and the other had an opened cryogenic chamber. Emily gripped the handle of her gun, still holstered at her side. She didn’t immediately see her prisoner. She saw movement on the corner of her eye, it was coming from the small cot. Her prisoner rolled over, completely covered in the blanket. She pulled it back and revealed her face. She was still thawing out from the long sleep.

“Hello, Commander.” The prisoner said.

“How did you get out of your cryogenic chamber?” Emily demanded, her hand still resting on her gun.

“Omega let me out just a little bit ago.” The prisoner replied. “I can’t stop shaking.”

“Omega!” Emily yelled at the AI.

“Yes, Commander.” Omega replied.

“Did you release the prisoner from her cryogenic chamber?”

“Yes, Commander.”

“I didn’t tell you to do that.” Emily said. “Don’t ever do that again without my authority.”

“Yes, Commander.” Omega said. “It won’t happen again.”

Emily released her grip from her gun. “Looks like your story checks out.”

“Commander,” Omega chimed back in. “I have a report on the crew’s sleeping habits. Shall I report?”

Emily looked at Smith, and then at the prisoner. “Sure, Omega. Report.”

“Only Daniels exited his chamber during the cryotherapy phase of our trip. And, as you know, he had to have been let out by someone else. It appears you have a stowaway.” Omega paused. “That is all to report. May I be of more assistance?”

“Not at the moment. Just keep checking for any abnormalities.” Emily said.

“Yes, Commander.” Omega said and went silent.

Emily stepped closer to the prison bars, the only thing separating her from her prisoner. “Tell me, who are you? And why are you in my custody? What did you do?” It was common practice when transporting high security prisoners to be given the least amount of information possible. The United Nations liked to transport high threat prisoners off the books, so as not to raise alarms and put any information out across the databases that could be hacked by someone wanting to perform a jailbreak.

The female prisoner sat up on the cot, tossed the blanket back and stretched her arms. “The name’s Myrna. That’s all you need to know on that front. My crime is treason, but it’s bogus. I was trying to prevent a hostile takeover. But, the powers that be don’t like being told when they’re wrong, I guess, especially by a woman.”

“Political crimes?” Emily questioned out loud. “What about murder?”

Myrna looked at her coldly. “Not murder. Anyone I’ve ever killed, I did so legally. I’m a bounty hunter. Or, was one, I guess.”

“A bounty hunter, guilty of treason. That is a first.” Emily said. “Can you get out of a cryogenic chamber by yourself? Do you hack?”

Myrna laughed. “No, I don’t hack. And this was the first time I’d been in one of these things. What a mess. You’d think we’d have it figured out a little better by now.”

“Well, here’s the thing, Myrna,” Emily started and walked right up to the bars. “One of my crew members is dead. Someone killed him, tore him to shreds, while the rest of us were sleeping. And I’m half inclined to assume it was you and put a bullet in you right now, just in case.”

Myrna rose from the cot and shuffled across the small cell to the bars. They met face-to-face, “I didn’t kill your crew member. But if I had, I would’ve shot him. I don’t like getting messy.”

Doctor Bond and Private Milton entered the officer’s quarters. And wondered to the back of Emily’s cryogenic chamber. Upon seeing the gruesome site, Milton immediately turned away and vomited all over the floor. Bond examined the scene.

“Yes,” Bond said, “It about matches the description she gave.” He bent down and put on some gloves. He examined the wound at the base of his neck. “Nasty bit of work. Definitely not human. And not any alien bite I’ve seen. Though, I’ve not seen every nasty alien species.” He stood and looked over at Milton who was finally recovering from the initial shock and puking session he’d just enjoyed. “Are you quite finished, Milton?”

“Shut up.” Milton grumbled under his breath. “That’s disgusting.”

“Yeah,” Bond said absentmindedly, looking about the room. “It’s awfully suspicious to me.”

“What?” Milton asked, finally standing up straight again and breathing regularly.

“Well,” Bond started, “The body being found here, right behind the Commander’s cryogenic chamber. I’m not accusing anyone, mind you, just saying that it looks awfully suspicious.” There was a silence while Bond let the paranoia seep in on Milton.

Could the Commander have perpetrated this heinous act?

“Well, let’s stop lollygagging around,” Bond said, “Pick this thing up, and let’s get it back to…” Bond slowly trailed off talking, as he looked back down at Daniels’ body. Something had changed while he had been turned away and talking to Milton. “Here now, what is this?” He moved in closer, and bent down, placing one knee on the ground next to Daniels’ head.

“What is it?” Milton asked, afraid to look.

“Hair.” Bond said. “A lot of it.” Bond looked at the face he had just seen moments ago, and he had recognized it before as Private Benjamin Daniels’ face, but now it was covered in hair and distorted. He examined further up the body and noticed hair on his arms and hands. His fingers appeared swollen and there were claws at the tips. “And, claws?”

“CLAWS?” Milton shouted in horror and looked. He was horrified at what he saw before him, and how it had changed in a matter of seconds for no apparent reason. “What is it?”

“It’s Daniels, somehow.” Bond said. He looked back into the face, he could barely see the resemblance now. “I wonder.” He reached with his fingers to open Daniels’ eyes, to check and see if he even had the same color eyes. He laid his index finger on the eyebrow and his thumb just below the lower eyelid. Before he could stretch them and pull apart his eyelids, both of Daniels’ eyes opened wide up and his pupils quickly dilated and noticed Bond hovering over him. He was alive again, if only barely.

Bond went to push back and away from him, but Daniels’ bit the inside of Bond’s right thigh and tore a chunk out as Bond fell over onto his back. He pushed himself away with the palms of his hands on the floor behind him.

“Milton, help!” Bond yelled.

Milton was frozen, still staring at Daniels, or rather the creature before him. It growled and hissed, but couldn’t move because of the spinal injury it had suffered. It stared at Milton with yellow eyes, desiring to eat him whole. Milton couldn’t think, couldn’t move.

“MILTON!” Bond yelled a second time.

Milton snapped out of it and noticed Bond compelling him for help. He ran around to the other side. He positioned himself behind Bond, and wrapped his arms underneath Bond’s armpits and began to drag him across the floor. The creature growled and barked at them as they made their slow but certain escape.

“There.” Bond said. “Toss me up on her bed, we need to stop this bleeding.”

“But—” Milton didn’t want to stop until they were back to the bridge and in the presence of others, and feeling safe once more.

“No buts,” Bond said, “Do it, or I’m dead.”

Milton reluctantly lifted Bond onto the bed, and pushed him back just enough that his legs were hanging off the edge. “Now what?”

“Find something to tie it off with.” Bond said. “Scarf, towel, shirt, I don’t care.”

Milton ran into a nearby closet and tore through Emily’s apparel, looking for something suitable. He grabbed a black, formal dress with an insignia on the right breast. He spun it around tightly and ran back into the room.

Bond was standing at the edge of the bed, his shirt and pants torn. He turned and looked suddenly at Milton with a jerk of his head. He had turned into the monster as well. Milton froze for a moment, not sure what to do, but when Bond came leaping at him he did all he could. He took a quick snap with the dress and hit Bond in his right eye, he bounced back, and grabbed at his eye while moaning. It was cause for irritation, but only that, so Milton ran around him and headed for the door which lead to the corridor.

Just as he reached the door and pressed the button on the panel to open it, he felt four quick and sharp pains across his back. The door opened and he fell into the corridor on his knees. Bond had slashed him across the back with his claws. Milton went to stand up, but felt a paw push his right shoulder down and he crashed back to his knees. With the other paw, Bond tilted Milton’s neck to one side and reached in for a bite on the neck. The virus leaked from the pours in his teeth and into Milton’s bloodstream. He pulled back from the bite, and then pushed him over to the floor. He walked down the corridor while Milton grouped at his neck and back in pain, crying and wailing for help.

“Commander.” Omega called out to Emily in the brigs.

“Yes, Omega.” She replied.

“There’s been an incident in your quarters.” Omega said, and there was a slight pause. “Again, that is.”

“What is it?”

“Some sort of virus, I’m assuming at this point.” Omega started. “Private Daniels’ reanimated somehow, passed the pathogen on via a bite to Dr. Bond, and from Dr. Bond to Private Milton.”

“Good grief.” Emily groaned.

“Reanimated?” Smith spoke for the first time since entering the brigs.

“Yes.” Omega continued. “As an animal of some kind. Half man, half dog perhaps. I did a quick run of ancient folklore from earth; I believe the appropriate terms are Wolf Man, Werewolf, or Lycan.”

“Yes.” Emily sighed. “That is correct, Omega. Please tell me you have the armory stocked with silver bullets like I always request.”

“Affirmative, Commander.” Omega replied. “But I should warn you. All three are dangerous, though Private Daniels is immobile. Doctor Bond and Private Milton are both moving about the corridors.” There was a slight pause. “It appears Dr. Bond is destroying my cameras in the corridors, Commander. I won’t have eyes on them for much longer.”

“They’re cognitive.” Myrna said.

“It would appear so, Prisoner 4716.” Omega said.

“Thanks.” Myrna replied sarcastically.

“I do not understand.” Omega said. “Why are you thanking me?”

“Forget it, Omega.” Emily interrupted. “Patch me through to the intercom.”

“Are you sure that is wise, Commander?” Omega asked. “If they are cognitive of the cameras, and my AI presence, they may also still understand the English language.”

“I’m aware, Omega,” Emily replied. “Patch me through.”

“Yes, Commander.” Omega said, and a medium length beep sound was heard. “Crew of the Omega, and Prisoner 4176, your Commander has a message. Listen well. The floor is yours, Commander.”

“Everybody listen up,” Emily started, “First things first, Sgt. Marx I need you to lock all entrances to the bridge. Do not, I repeat, do not let in Dr. Bond or Private Milton under any circumstances. Now before you panic, and think they killed Private Daniels, that’s just not true. It appears we are carrying a strain of the Wolf Man virus. I learned about it during my training at the academy. It’s ridiculously contagious and it acts fast. It turns its host into a half man, half wolf—thus the name. The virus can only be killed by silver. When the silver enters the bloodstream of the host, it will destroy the virus. It also, unfortunately will destroy the host. The only cure for the virus will kill the host, that’s just the way it is. It’s not pretty, but it gets the job done. We have silver bullets in the armory, and Private Smith and I will be retrieving them and bringing them to the bridge.” She looked at Smith, who was white as a sheet at the prospect of having to move through the ship with no eyes on Bond and Milton. Emily continued to address her crew, “In the meantime, you can kill a Wolf Man through blood loss or beheading. However, it is important to remember that since no silver is administered to the bloodstream in those cases the blood spilt is still contagious. Do not touch the blood of a Wolf Man, period. Private Smith and I will be with you shortly. Oh, and one more thing, don’t use the communications, as we have reason to believe that despite their animal nature, Dr. Bond and Private Milton are still very cognitively aware of their surroundings. Your Commander, over and out.”

“So what about me?” Myrna asked from behind the bars of her holding cell.

Emily gave her a cold look. “You better just hope we eradicate the virus before it reaches you.” She looked at the bars. “You might be better off than us with these bars to protect you.”

“Right,” Myrna scoffed.

Emily was nervous for Smith, this was no way to start out as a rookie. She could see that she was already sweating at the thought of their task before them. “Private Smith, ready your weapon. If you see Dr. Bond or Private Milton, start shooting. Don’t hesitate. Any hesitation in this situation could prove fatal. Understood?”

“Yes, Commander.” Smith said with a shaky voice. She cleared her throat and pulled her weapon from its holster, clasping it in two hands before her body.

Emily stepped up to the door of the brigs. “Smith, I’ll lead, you watch my back. Got it?”

“Yes, Commander.”

“Hey, Commander!” Myrna called out to Emily, who turned and looked at her. “Good luck.”

Emily just nodded. She pulled her weapon from its holster, cocked and opened the door. She peered out; first left, and then right. Nothing. And it was all quiet. She gripped the standard issue gun between her sweaty palms, and headed out into the corridor. Smith followed and the door closed behind them. Myrna did not envy them, but she was concerned about how she was going to fend off such a creature if it came into her cell.

Emily and Smith proceeded through the corridors, slowly but surely making their way to the armory. All doors were opened, and they had to stop and clear each room before moving past them. It was a slow, tedious and dreadful task.

The armory was located on the backside of the cafeteria, and they would have to cross the cafeteria before reaching their destination. They’d be vulnerable in the wide open space, as there would be nowhere to hide. Emily and Smith stood at either side to the entrance and looked inside. It appeared empty and quiet.

Emily made eye contact with Smith, her face was covered in sweat and her eyes were wide. “Look, we make to the left wall, and we follow it all the way down. We stick together the whole time. Got it?” Emily said.

Smith just nodded, afraid to speak.

Emily nodded back and stepped into the cafeteria. Smith took her place behind her and they quickly tiptoed across to the left wall. They continued down it, past the metal tables which were sparkly clean. They hadn’t been used yet since the woke from their cryotherapy.

Just as they were about to reach the door to the armory, there was a noise from the corridor. Emily turned and looked back, pulling Smith behind her to protect her. But while Emily looked towards the entrance they’d come through, Smith panicked and opened the door to the armory. She wanted those silver bullets and to put some space and a wall between herself and whoever (or whatever) was coming for them.

The door slid quickly into the wall with a whooshing sound, as all the doors did on the ship, and there was Milton ready to pounce. He was in his new form, and dripping saliva from the mouth. He came flying at her like a wolf pouncing its prey, and he dug his claws into her torso and they went flying back into the kitchen. He ripped into her throat with his fangs, tearing at flesh, muscle and bone as they slid across the floor.

Emily had turned as soon as she had heard the door, and watched in horror as they both vanished into the kitchen in a flight of violence. She ran into the kitchen, took aim and shot Milton twice in his hairy back. He spun around on all fours, growling and ready to attack her, but when he saw who it was he was taken aback and whimpered like a dog. He stepped back from Smith’s body and bowed his head, not making eye contact with Emily. He was acknowledging her as his alpha, and offering Smith to her.

Emily slowly stepped one foot forward, not sure whether she could trust Milton. He stayed bowed, not looking. She took another step and looked down at Smith. She was gasping for air with the gaping whole in her neck, and she tried to apply pressure to it with her hand. Blood poured from it without end. She was already a ghostly shade of white. Her struggle slowly began to whither, and then she apologized. “Sorry. Sorry, Commander. Sorry.” She kept repeating the word “sorry” until the last of her life drained from her.

Emily knew this wouldn’t be the last of Private Smith, unless she put a silver bullet through her. She looked back to Milton who was still cowering in fear. She decided to play the alpha card. She took her gun and hit him with it on the head. He whimpered. “Bad! BAD!” He whimpered and backed up. “Now stay. STAY!” She slowly backed out of the kitchen, her gun fixed on him. “Stay, Milton, STAY!”

She quickly rushed into the armory and grabbed a clip with silver bullets. She loaded it into her gun, and dumped the rest of the silver bullet clips into a backpack. She put the backpack on and went back into the kitchen. Milton was still cowering and whimpering. He had peed himself and a puddle of his own urine was on the floor beneath him. He was standing in it on all fours. Smith was still dead, for now.

Emily took a few steps in and took aim at Milton first. She fired two bullets into the top of his head. He fell over, instantly dead from the wounds. She looked down at Smith, and she saw her eyes change color from the blue they were to a yellowish tint. The change was coming. She fired one bullet into her forehead. The eyes returned a natural blue and rolled up into her head.

She walked out of the kitchen, and approached the nearest table. She sat down for a moment and sighed. She felt like the worst person in the world. How many more of her crew would she have to kill before restoring order to her ship? She wanted to cry, but knew Bond was still on the move somewhere. She didn’t want to be caught off guard by him. Plus, she had the silver bullets and she needed to get those to her crew on the bridge as quickly as possible. She thought of Myrna. If she was a bounty hunter, and according to her preferred guns, she could use her help making it to the bridge. But she didn’t know if she could trust her. She finally decided she could at least trust her up until a point, because they both needed each other to survive the virus. The brigs was on the way to the bridge, and she could quickly release her on the way. She retrieved another handgun from the armory, tossed it in her backpack and set off to the brigs once more.

Emily stepped back through the door to the brigs, and closed it behind her. Myrna stood up from her bed in the cell. “You made it!” She exclaimed, but when she didn’t notice the presence of Smith, she frowned. “I’m sorry about Private Smith.”

“This is how it’s going to be, Myrna,” Emily said sternly, still huffing from the adrenaline. “You’re going to accompany me to the bridge, so we can properly equip my crew with silver bullets. The way I see it, the only way any of us survive this is if we work together to eradicate the virus.”

“Sure.” Myrna said, “Except you’ll still be marooning me on a maximum security prison after this is all over. Doesn’t sound much like surviving to me. Maybe I’ll just take my chances.” She sat back down on the cot and folded her legs.

Emily tore the second gun from the backpack and showed it to her. “You won’t last long without one of these. Trust me, I’ve seen one of these creatures in action.”

Myrna stared at the gun for a moment, and then stood up and took a deep breath. “OK, fine. I’ll help you get to your crew.”

“Don’t make me regret this.” Emily said before unlocking the cell door.

“I know this won’t sound like much to you now,” Myrna said, “But I’m not your enemy.”

Emily and Myrna approached the doors to the bridge, and were not set at ease when they saw the doors had been ripped open. It appeared Dr. Bond had tore through to the bridge. Emily was thinking of the potential massacre that would be laying before them. She was infuriated at the thought of losing her entire crew.

Myrna laid a hand on her shoulder. “Now think about it: it’s likely they’re all dead or changed in there. Do you really want to find that? Or should we just use the escape pod and bolt?” Myrna said.

“I won’t argue with logic,” Emily said, “But those are my crew in there. I won’t leave them without a fight.”

Myrna nodded. “Fair enough.”

Emily and Myrna snuck up on the crashed doors, and peaked inside. The entire bridge of the ship was inhabited with werewolves. Some were sitting, licking wounds they had sustained when being turned. Others were pacing, waiting for something. In the middle of the bridge, sitting in Emily’s chair where she shouted out commands was the good doctor. She could tell it was him because portions of his doctor’s coat was intact. He looked defiant.

Myrna noticed something on the corner of her eye, and looked to see one of the creatures slowly creeping up from around the corner behind Emily. When Myrna made eye contact with the creature it lunged at them.

Myrna pushed Emily out of the way and fired three rounds into the creature. Emily fell into the bridge, startled. And the creature died at Myrna’s feet. When Emily saw what Myrna had done, she thanked her with a gentle nod, but then slowly turned around to view the room. All of the yellowish eyes were glued on her, and they were all growling through their teeth. But none moved, waiting for a sign from Bond, their new alpha. She looked up at Bond who stood from the chair, his chest sticking out in defiance. He growled at her and sneered down at her tiny frame. She slowly rose to her feet, her gun in one hand at the side of her leg. She wondered if she should bother or just run. Maybe Myrna was right.

Bond lifted his head and howled, long and loud. All of the others followed suit, following his lead. And that was enough for Emily, she was tired of the good doctor defying her. She was going to finally just shoot the idiot. She raised her gun to take aim and before she could pull the trigger, Bond reached out and slapped her hand. The gun flew across the room, and his claws tore through her forearm. She spun around and fell to one knee, groping the gash in her arm. Bond howled and the others followed suit again, it was a mockery. He couldn’t just kill her, they had to make a show of it.

Emily looked at her wound, it was bleeding bad. Her adrenaline was driving fast, and her rage was making her hot. That was when she noticed the little hairs start to grow out of the skin on her arm. She could feel a warmth moving across her whole body, and she knew it wasn’t just adrenaline. She was one of them. But no, not just one of them. She was the alpha, the first. It all made sense now, the mystery was solved. Her cryogenic chamber was the only one she hadn’t thought to have Omega check. She had killed Private Daniels, and he had tried to escape her by taking her empty cryogenic chamber. He didn’t come to her quarters for help, he came there to escape her animalistic wrath. She had started this, all of it. She was the host who had brought the virus on them. She had killed her crew. Her and no one else. She was a monster.

“What do you want me to do?” Myrna whispered to her beneath the howls. She had her gun raised, gripped firmly between her palms. She was ready to fight it out with Emily, but was unaware of the change that was taking place inside her. Unaware of the epiphany she had just had.

Emily looked up to her and her eyes changed from brown to yellow. “Run. You run and don’t look back.” Myrna looked at her in shock, seeing the transformation start before her eyes. Emily suddenly jerked her head back, and her face tore out into a wolf’s snout. The fangs cut out through the insides of her mouth. Her arms jerked and snapped. Claws tore through her finger tips and she pointed a claw at Myrna. “I said RUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNGGGGGHHHHH!” She yelled and her voice carried over into a growl.

Myrna didn’t hesitate the second time, and ran out into the corridor. She tore off into a sprint for the escape pods.

Emily turned around to face her adversaries, her own crew. The howling stopped. Bond was staring at her, growling and hissing as she transformed before him. The others slowly backed away from her, and bowed their heads. Bond saw this act of respect, and he growled and barked at them. He even reached with his right claw and scratched up Marx for defying him. Emily barked at him for that act of aggression, and he looked at her, his yellow eyes burning with fury.

Her transformation completed, and she stood up on two feet. In her new form, she was larger than he was and she had an albino coat of fur. Her eyes shifted from yellow to pink. She stared him down and growled in a deep, harsh voice, “You’ve been a very bad dog. It’s time to put you down.”

Bond took one step up on the Commander’s chair and lunged through the air at her. She turned to the side, and caught him with one claw on his throat and the other between his legs. She followed through with the momentum of his jump, and tossed him across the room. He crashed into the wall and fell to the ground. She had pierced his neck and genitals with her claws while catching him. He was whimpering and spitting blood. He pawed at his genitals and held onto his throat. He tried to crawl away from her, whimpering as he did so. She stood over him and looked down on him. He choked and gagged on his own blood. She stood there for a moment, and then turned away and the rest of the crew charged and tore him limb-from-limb while he howled and whimpered in pain.

Emily returned to her Commander’s chair and sat down. A white beast, and leader of her pack.

The crew finished feasting and came over to her. They bowed and rested at her feet.



  • DO NOT READ THIS BEFORE READING THE STORY. SPOILER ALERT. So, I technically didn’t “kill her” in the traditional sense of the word. If you are someone who has read much of my writing, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I have a tendency to blur certain (traditional) lines. Antagonists are often empathetic characters in my stories, and protagonists are often very flawed. In Emily’s story, she requested to be the antagonist. In a way, she is the antagonist of the plot or conflict, but Dr. Bond is the antagonist of the story. She mostly comes across as a protagonist throughout the duration of the story, until she realizes she was the person who introduced the virus to her crew and was personally responsible for gruesomely killing Private Daniels. All that to get around to saying that I took death as being once you’ve been changed by the virus, because the crew members had to die before becoming a werewolf. Theoretically, Emily was already dead before the story even started, it just took the duration of the story for us (and her) to figure that out.

#ebook, #horror, #longread, #sciencefiction, #scifi, #shortstory, #writing

Shawna Bergen’s Withdrawal at Free Citizens United (short story and opportunity)

Another one bites the dust in my morbid scheme to kill people for money. Fictionally speaking, of course. I wouldn’t actually kill these people in real life for $5, that’s ridiculous. Maybe for $1,000, but not for $5.

My first two contestants in the wheel of death:

This week we welcome to the cold slab, Shawna Bergen.

Download the Files

Click here to download the files from Dropbox (epub, mobi, PDF and DRM free)

Shawna Bergen

Shawna describes herself as being a computer nut, and indeed one of the three images she sent me for the project had her wearing a T-shirt that read, “Nerd is the New Cool.”

image of Shawna Bergen

The real Shawna Bergen.

The image above of Shawna helped set a mood for the look I wanted to pursue for her in the story, and her description of herself as being a computer nut also helped set a tone for my direction with the character and plot. She had heard of the opportunity through Google+ and I was able to look over some of her public posts there, and this post of hers featuring the song Everyday People by Sly and the Family Stone hit a soft spot for me in the creative juices as well. I love this song a lot, and the idea of working it into the story as sort of a theme or backdrop to the story gave me a lot of momentum. I also worked in a thing or two from her About tab on Google+, see if you notice them. You can find her on Google+ and Twitter.

And now, let’s stop talking about it, and post the story. Enjoy!

Shawna Bergen had been tweaking the code of her virus for months. The virus was designed to infiltrate the virtual vaults at Free Citizens United Bank and Trust, and perform a series of transactions that would flood the system with unintelligible data in the moment. During this it would also transfer twenty billion in digital credits to a Swiss bank account of hers through micro transactions. These micro funds would eventually filter into the account over a period of 72 hours. After all of that was finished, the virus would launch a DDOS attack on Free Citizens United and she’d be walking out of the bank one, very rich woman.

That was the plan.

She stood up from her desk in the living room of her small apartment. She looked around the room as she stretched her back, and twisted her torso left and right. The apartment was old, rundown and not her own. The last was the most important. She stepped into her bathroom, and pulled back the shower curtains. She had installed her own microbrewery in the bathtub, and had been hiding it from her landlord. She looked forward to finishing her job at Free Citizens United, so she could take a pile of the cash and purchase a little place to call home. Something outside of the cities. She heard there was still such a place, where the countryside was untouched by the progression of man’s ambitions.

She grabbed a cup from the sink and poured herself a fresh beer of her own making. She smelled it and took a sip. It hit the spot, as her nerves were starting to cramp up in her stomach. Tomorrow was the day she walked into Free Citizens United and stole a lot of money.

She stepped into the living room once more, and laid her cup on the coffee table. She grabbed a black hoodie off the back of the couch and put it on, zipped it up and threw the hood over her head. She shouted a command to her computer and it started playing Everyday People by Sly and the Family Stone. She picked up her cup, took another sip and laid her head back. She closed her eyes, and then focused on breathing and listening.

Michael Markus was Chief Security Officer at Free Citizens United, and he performed a routine check of the systems at 3:30pm every day, just before heading into the afternoon meetings before heading home. He often wondered why meetings were held in the afternoon, and so close to closing time for many of the higher management, it was just asking for lazy and boring meetings.

He was in a particularly good mood on Tuesday, February 9, 2076. It was his wedding anniversary, he and his wife Audrey had been together for almost ten years. They had three beautiful children, and for the first time in seven years they would be celebrating their anniversary without the kids to interfere. His day was flying by so fast, and nothing could ruin his mood.

He burst into the security office and looked around at everyone with a smile. They all looked a little concerned. “I’m in such a good mood, folks, that we’re starting this test early and finishing early.” He said. “How fast can you check the systems? Make me proud.”

Everyone cheered and spun around in their chairs. The systems check was usually a long, drawn out occurrence, as Michael was very meticulous about every detail that passed through their system. In his mind, running the security for a bank was like running a casino. It was a game, his game, and anything that was out of place was cheating the system in place. His system.

Shawna walked into the enormous skyscraper of glass, which was the main headquarters of Free Citizens United Bank and Trust. She had timed her withdrawal to come at a time when the bank was at its busiest. This also came just before the Chief Security Officer, Michael Markus, performed his daily systems check. She knew she’d have to be quick to blend in with the crowd of transactions, but miss the systems check as well.

Even though currency had gone completely digital in 2049, due to security concerns, most transactions with such currency had to be made via banks. Give a little, take a whole lot more is how it felt. She would have preferred setting the world on fire from home, but it just wasn’t an option. The only way onto the bank’s network was to be inside their building. And in her case, with the amount of accounts she wanted to affect, she would need to be on the twenty-third floor. The higher up you went in the building, the higher risk and more secure you were. Everyday people and their everyday accounts were accessed on the first levels.

She hesitated for a moment at the elevators, second guessing herself. She was squeezing on a memory stick in the pocket of her hoodie with her sweaty palm. The memory stick contained her virus, and all she would have to do is insert it into a bank ATM terminal to get it started.

“Going up, Miss?” A gentleman on the elevator in a suit asked her, holding the doors.

“Oh, yes,” she stepped onto the elevator and was at the front of a group of suits and skirts. “Thanks.” She whispered to the gentleman.

“No problem,” he said, “Which floor?”

“Twenty-three,” she said.

“Really?” He asked, hardly believing what he was hearing and seeing. A woman in a black hoodie and blue jeans, with untamed blonde hair, who did not look like she had much money to her name.

“Trust fund brat,” she said and rolled her eyes. She threw the hood up over her head and took a deep breath.

Michael Markus was standing in the middle of everything, as was his custom, eyeing all of the data coming and going across the screens in his security center. The test had been running smoothly, and he was feeling pretty good. Only a few more minutes were left before they’d have all the data they needed, and he’d be telling his team how amazing they were. But then something caught his eye.

“Wait,” he said, “Something just happened. What just happened?” He spun around on his heels, and looked at another screen over a man’s shoulder. “What is all this?”

“We’re busy, it appears,” the man said.

“Not that busy,” he said and walked over to another monitor. “Are these all incoming or outgoing?” He asked the girl at the monitor.

“Both, sir.” She replied.

Michael walked back to his place in the middle of the room, his eyes darting to and fro. Someone tried to speak up, but he raised his hands and shushed them. He stayed like that for a moment. His eyes watching, moving. And silence. “We’ve been hacked.”

Shawna was sitting in an ATM room, the door locked behind her. The memory stick with the virus on it was plugged in and working its magic. She glanced at her phone, she had thirty more seconds before it was complete. She was hoping when she opened the door to leave, there wouldn’t be a group of security officers waiting for her.

She licked her lips, and tried to swallow but her mouth was dry. She was rattled. She had calculated the whole process taking sixty seconds, but nothing prepared her for how long it would feel in the heat of the moment.

Michael was pacing about his command center, barking orders like a commander in the battlefield. “Tell me what floor it’s happening on, people!”

A girl jumped up from her desk with her hands in the air, “It’s level 23! They just pulled out, but it’s level 23.”

Michael pointed at two of his men, “You and you are with me.” He spun around and barked a command to show all cameras on level 23. He shushed everyone again and stood still, his eyes darting between the different monitors and screens of various security camera angles. There were seas of people everywhere, all in black, and everyone seemingly the same. “There. The hood. I want the hood. Why is there a hoodie on level 23? Bring me the hood.” He took off with the two men, grabbing walkie-talkies on their way out of the door. He spit orders back into the walkie-talkie, “Shut down elevators and stairs on 23. I’ll message you when to let us in. Keep an eye on the hood.”

“Yes, sir.” A voice garbled back.

The three men in suits picked up pace, running as fast as their dress shoes would allow.

Shawna turned a corner and saw a large crowd of people building up at the elevators. The thought of blending into the sea of people sounded promising, but then she noticed the red light above the doors indicating the elevators were locked. The people in suits frantically pulled out their cell phones and texted or made phone calls.

She turned and looked out the window at the overcast sky, it was beginning to rain. Rain was slowly trickling down the glass in front of her, teasing her at how close to freedom she was and only trapped by something as fragile as glass.

She headed off down another hallway, the stairs would have to do. Perhaps it had nothing to do with her, perhaps it was a fire drill or some nonsense. Before she was even near the staircase, she could see another large crowd of people, and the door was closed. They had been caged in like rats.

She stepped into a nearby bathroom, and closed herself off in a stall.

There was no physical evidence to trace her back to the hack. She had done a thorough job of making sure there was nothing on the memory stick to link her back to it, or link it back to her apartment. When they searched her apartment, they would find nothing of any consequence. She had even cleaned out and decommissioned her microbrewery the night before. She just wasn’t sure she could handle the stress of being caged in and rattled around, poked at with a stick.

She took a deep breath and stepped out of the stall. She washed her hands and face in the sink, and the cold water was refreshing against her nervous skin.

She stepped out of the bathroom and there were three men in suits, she recognized one as Michael Markus. She had seen a picture of him and studied him for some time in preparation for the heist. Even admired him. And to prove her admiration wasn’t misplaced, she hacked his personal computer and was pleased to discover she still liked him.

“Hello, Miss,” Michael said to her, “My name is Michael Markus, I’m Chief Security Officer here at Free Citizens United. Can I have a few words with you?”

“Sure,” she said.

“Were you just in room 2318?” He asked.

“A few minutes ago, yes,” she said, trying hard not to feel or look nervous.

“Did you notice anything unusual?” He asked her.

“Other than myself?” She said, laughing a little. It eased her nerves a bit. “I’m not exactly the suit type.”

“I’ll repeat the question,” Michael said, neither laughing nor smiling, “Did you notice anything unusual?”

“No,” she said, “It was pretty much in and out in a few seconds, like most guys.” She saw the two men with him smirk a little, he gave them a look. “Look nothing was out of the ordinary. But I don’t know how I can help you, if that’s the only question you’re gonna ask.”

“I’m gonna need to see your memory stick,” he said.

“OK,” she said and reached into her pocket.

“And you’ll need to be placed under house arrest for the time being,” he added.

“Now wait a minute,” a voice spoke up and she turned and saw the gentleman from the elevator. “What’s going on here?” He looked at her with a disapproving look, “What have you done now?”

Michael looked confused, “You know this woman, sir?”

“Yes, I should say so,” the gentleman responded, “She’s my daughter… well, stepdaughter, and she’s in a lot of trouble.”

“I’m not sure I’m buying this,” Michael said.

The gentleman shook his head, “She’s a trust fund brat, the worst kind.” He looked back at her, “You up here taking out more money, no doubt? Your mother is going to be so upset. I don’t know how she’s going to get through this.”

Michael shook his head, he really didn’t like the way things had turned. “Now, just give me a minute.”

“What?” The gentleman said.

“I said shut up,” Michael snarled, “I need a minute to think.” He stood there for a moment, motionless, staring at Shawna. He bit his lip, “Alright, I still need to borrow your memory stick for a moment. We’ve had a breach, it might have a virus.”

“Oh,” she said, acting surprised, “Why didn’t you say so?” She pulled out a memory stick and handed it to him. The memory stick with the virus she had left in the trash can in the room.

He handed it to one of the men with him, who stuck it into his phone, and it spat up information about her. But it was all misinformation. As they looked over the information, a voice came through on the walkie-talkies.

“We found the memory stick with the virus,” the voice said, “Discarded in the trash can.”

“Thanks,” Michael said. He turned back to Shawna and gave her the memory stick. “Sorry for any inconvenience, Miss.”

“It’s no problem,” she said and pocketed the memory stick.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me,” the gentleman said, “I’ve got some scolding to do.”

Michael rolled his eyes, “Right. You do that.”

Shawna and the gentleman walked around the corner, and Michael and his men headed off in the other direction. To her left was a large glass window displaying the rain which had broken out in full force. She wanted outside so bad. To lose herself in the rain, and get as far away from the city as possible.

“That was exciting,” the gentleman said.

“You’re kinda stupid, you know that?” She said, “You don’t know me. You don’t know what you may or may not have just got yourself mixed up in.”

“It doesn’t matter,” he said, “I had fun.”

Michael kept moving at a hurried pace, he was going to investigate the room for himself. Something wasn’t right, he didn’t buy that the woman with the hoodie wasn’t their perpetrator. There had to be a connection somehow, and he’d find it. He always found the connection.

“Sir,” the walkie-talkie sparked up, “We’ve got a bit of a problem.”

“What is it?” Michael said.

“Chief Information Officer Linton got wind of the breach, he thinks you’re not doing your job,” the voice said, “He’s sent the muscle.”

“Do they know about the hood?” Michael asked.

“That’s where they’re headed now, sir,” the voice said.

“Try to talk him down!” Michael shouted into the walkie-talkie. He spun around and started into a full sprint after Shawna. The two men with him were right on his heels.

Shawna stopped, and grabbed the gentleman by the arm when the door to the stairs up ahead came open from the inside. A group of men in tactical gear stepped out with assault rifles, pushing the crowd of business suits back and yelling at them. Threatening to use force, if they wouldn’t back up. A member of the squad spotted her.

“There’s the hood!” The officer shouted and raised his gun at her. Within seconds all of the squad had guns aimed at her.

She and the gentleman threw their hands straight up without hesitation. “Step aside from me, old man,” she whispered to him, “They’re gonna kill me.”

He turned and looked at her, “What did you do exactly?”

“I made a withdrawal.” She said.

There was silence as the tension slowly built. A few of the officers broke away from the squad and made their way towards them. “We’re going to approach you, and cuff you,” an officer said, “Do not move. We will use lethal force, if necessary.”

Shawna looked over at the business suits, and they had backed away from the officers. Some were watching, others were holding up their phones recording the event.

“She’s got a gun!” Someone shouted. Shawna couldn’t tell if it was an officer or one of the business suits.

The officers closest started shooting first. They opened fire and the bullets sprayed her body and all around her. The old man was also getting hit with a spray of bullets. They fell, wrapped into each other. And the shooting kept coming, even when they landed on the floor and tried to shield themselves with their arms and legs.

Michael and his men turned the corner just as the shooting broke out, and one of his men was hit in the leg. The other man was hit in the arm. Michael fell from the momentum and shock off the shooting. He slid across the floor and into the glass wall. He threw his hand up and started shouting for them to stop shooting. He held his badge in his hand.

“STOP FIRING. I am the Chief Security Officer,” he yelled, but it seemed to have little effect. He kept yelling it over and over. He rose to his feet and came towards them with his arms raised, his badge visible in his left hand. “I am the Chief Security Officer, stop firing!” Finally, he took the badge in his right hand and pitched it as hard as he could at the point man in the squad, “I’m the Chief Security Officer! Why am I here? Why am I even here?”

The point man raised his gun and almost shot Michael, after getting hit with the badge, but after they made eye contact he called off the shooting.

The business suits were laying on the ground for cover, some had even ran for cover down the hallway and around the corner. There were a few in front who still had their phones out recording the event, though they too had retreated to the floor for cover.

Shawna crawled up and looked into the old man’s eyes. He was staring off into nothingness. Death had taken him quick. He was riddled with bullets, completely wasted and for no good reason. She looked over at the squad members, who looked a little stunned at what they had done. They had lowered their weapons. She looked up at Michael, who looked completely frustrated as he looked into her eyes. Behind him a portion of the glass had been completely shattered, and the rain was now pouring into the hallway and inching towards the old man’s body.

“I’m sorry,” Michael said.

“It’s not your fault, Michael,” she said, and his eyes perked up when he heard his name. “I am the virus.” She rolled across the old man’s body with just enough energy to push herself up to her feet and take two, long steps and then jump out the broken window.

She freefell with the rain.


#ebook, #longread, #sciencefiction, #scifi, #shortstory, #writing

Julia Robertson’s Last Call (a short story and opportunity)

In case you missed the memo, I started something new last week. That something new is taking $5 from folks to write a short story or flash fiction piece in which they get killed. Some people may call that selling out, I like to call it blood money myself.

Our first contestant on the wheel of death was Kat Folland in Kat Folland’s Early Retirement.

Number two is Julia Robertson (no, not Julia Roberts).

Download the Files

Click here to download the files from Dropbox (epub, mobi, PDF and DRM free)

Julia Robertson

With Kat Folland’s piece, I had (with permission) stalked her social media profile on Google+. It seemed to help me some, but I had also been in a circular relationship on Google+ with Kat for sometime as well. But with Julia, I chose to rely solely on the one image she provided me. We’ll see if this was a mistake or not. I have a feeling I probably could have written a more intriguing story for her had I done so. But that’s my initial feelings on the topic.

image of Julia Robertson

The real Julia Robertson.

When I first saw this image (above) of Julia Robertson, my mind immediately drifted into some familiar territory for me. I’ve got a collection of ideas for various steampunk/western/scifi style stories that I tell myself I’ll write someday, along with ALL THE STORIES in my head. With only this image to guide me, I set off into the future of an icy Wild West frontier in Washington, D.C.

Julia is a Brain Tumor survivor, you can find her here on Twitter. She actively does what she can to try and help research a cure for Brain Tumors. So, similarly to Kat Folland in our first installment, she is tough as nails as well.

And now, without any further ado, the story.

Julia Robertson’s Last Call

In 2134, the Earth entered a second ice age. The entire globe was covered in snow and ice, and all of the technology of the 21st century and beyond was rendered useless. Satellites were lost in space, communication devices became paperweights. The entire world’s infrastructure shutdown and mankind had to adapt, or die.

Heat, shelter and light became the most valuable resources.

Solar power had dominated most of the latter 2000s, but as the new ice age spat down it became clear to some that solar was not going to last forever. Scientists around the globe visited large cities, pleading for politicians to invest in wind energy in advance of the oncoming ice age. Many ignored these warnings, which seemed like cries of a sinking Titanic before any icebergs had been spotted. When the ice age hit, those who had invested in wind energy were able to harness that energy from the intense gusts of wind that blew to and fro all day and night. The world had become a snow-globe of howling winds.

In the United States, the White House had been devastated by the first wave of blizzards, and future presidents were housed in a bunker style compound known as the White Brick by common folks. The destruction of modern communication and technology meant that politics of Washington were cut off from the rest of the country. The law of the Wild West seemed to rise once more. Local politics were where the law really existed, if it existed at all. But most towns and cities weren’t prepared, and didn’t survive.

Many lives were lost.

President Winslow sat in the Thomas Jefferson Bar of the White Brick, and savored a glass of tonic and gin. He looked up at Julia Robertson who ran the bar, which served as a reception area for politicians and foreign diplomats. That night they had entertained diplomats from a struggling Chinese economy. It had taken the Chinese diplomats three months to make the journey, and they had lost two comrades in the process. When stakes were that high, it made for some intriguing meetings to watch. And Julia had watched her share of meetings. Her family had been serving drinks in the White Brick for three generations, and she was the last of her bloodline. The meetings would continue for at least another month, as neither party was interested in parting ways until an agreement could be made. She would be seeing the same long faces day in and day out, pouring their drinks, hearing their pleas for compromise and refusals to budge. But, eventually, an agreement would be reached. An agreement would have to be reached, it was always the way. Going back empty handed after such a journey was never an option. And then, there was always the potential that the foreign diplomats could be shipwrecked before returning home with the news and the process would start over anew.

Julia dried off a shot glass with a towel, one which Vice President Milton had been using for his scotch on the rocks. She sat it down, and Winslow looked up at her. He looked tired with bags under his eyes. He had been arguing with his own men before the diplomats had even arrived. “How do you put up with us?” He asked her.

“Excuse me, sir?” She said.

“You have to hear all of this,” he gestured about the oval-shaped lounge, “And yet, you keep a cool head and never complain. How do you put up with it?”

“That’s easy,” she said, “I ignore it.”

“I wish I could do that.” He said.

“But you can’t,” she said, and picked up a bottle of beer and popped the cap off. “You’re invested in it. I’m not.” She took a long swig and leaned against the bar with him.

“I am invested in it,” he started and his eyes glazed over. He stared off somewhere into the distance, something catching his eye or perhaps a memory of days gone by, or a vision of the future. “I’m invested in knowing things turn out. Knowing that what we do here actually matters. And you should be invested, too, because what we do can impact you.”

“I doubt that, sir,” she said and took another swig, “I just pour the drinks. And when I’m dead, someone else will pour the drinks.”

“I’m trying to change that way of thinking,” he shook his head. “I guess I’m not prevailing.” He sipped on his tonic.

“We live in a snow globe, Mr. President,” she said, “Every time the flurries start to settle somebody comes along and shakes it up again. And besides, you’re better than most. I couldn’t stand the last three presidents.”

“That’s true,” he said and smiled. He turned and looked at the paintings on the wall of former presidents. “And I’m way better looking.” They both laughed warmly, and he finished off his tonic. “Thanks. I needed a sanity refresher. But,” he stood up, “I should reacquaint myself with my wife, as tomorrow is another long, long day. Good night.”

“Good night, Mr. President,” Julia said and picked up his glass. She dropped it into the soapy sink and quickly cleaned it. She rinsed it and dried it off, returning it to the shelf. She unplugged the sink and let the water drain.

Luther Crenshaw, a bodyguard to the president, came in and clocked in just outside the lounge. Julia watched him as he turned and stammered into her corner of the world. He barely looked alive much less awake, he stepped up to the bar and fell onto it. The barstool cried under the weight of his sloppy demeanor.

“Why, Luther Crenshaw, I believe you are skunk drunk,” she told him.

“I don’t need a drink.” He said gruffly, and then thought for a moment about what she had said. He looked confused. He shook his head and decided to start over. “Do you have anything for…” he gestured to his whole body with his open hand, “this?”

“What you need is coffee, Mr. Crenshaw.” She said.

“I have no idea what that is, but I’ll take it.”

“Unfortunately, it doesn’t exist anymore,” she said and picked up a pitcher of water. She poured him a long glass. “This is as good as it gets anymore.”

“How old is it?” He asked.

“I thawed it myself tonight.” She said.

He sighed and took the glass. “Fine.”

Crenshaw got up and walked over to a lounge chair and plopped into it. The water spilled a little on his hand. He cursed under his breath, and then took a sip. He frowned at the lack of taste and cursed some more. He put the glass on the table next to him. Within seconds she could tell he was starting to fall asleep. His head would slowly nod, and then jerk back up and repeat. She never understood why Winslow kept the drunk around. She was certain he would never prove his worth when the occasion called for it, and worried that one day she would be proven right.

It was about that time that the first of the gunshots rang out.

Her head darted up and she looked towards the hallway. She waited to confirm another sound, hoping it was just her imagination. But when the next burst of gunshots rang out she knew it was a siege. She looked back at Crenshaw who was already on his feet, pistol in hand.

“Those were gunshots, right?” He asked, still dazed from his drunken and drowsy state.

She nodded without a word, and reached under her bar without looking. She felt the cold of steel and wood. She pulled out her grandfather’s shotgun, and pulled the pump to cock it for the ready.

“Not your first siege?” He asked her.

“I’ve seen my share. You?”

“My first,” he said.

A series of gunshots rang out, closer and louder than before. The voices of men were yelling, some sounded like bodyguards trying to give out orders but no one ever listened to orders. Law of the west, everyone was a gunslinger and everyone was his own man or woman. There were other voices yelling, these were distinctively happy and psychotic in nature. Julia could tell when another bodyguard fell, because a voice would shout in acclamation at the victory.

“They’ve broken the parameter,” she said. “Looks like we’re gonna get some action.”

“I didn’t bring any protection.” Crenshaw said and chuckled. She rolled her eyes. “I read it in a book,” he explained.

“I know what it means,” she said.

“You do? What’s it mean?” He asked.


An explosion erupted and the door in the hallway went flying off, splitting into thousands of pieces as it traveled down the hallway. The sound of the explosion was piercing and Julia’s ears were ringing. She dropped down behind the bar for cover. Screaming and laughing voices came screeching through the smoke, and she peaked around the corner of the bar to get a look. A seemingly never ending group of men came running through, yelling and shouting with guns of all shapes and sizes. They were dressed in long trench coats, large brimmed hats and masquerade ball masks. She recognized the masks from a worn out book her father had borrowed from the Presidential Library when she was a child.

“Hey Julia!” A masked intruder stepped out of the smoke and into her lounge, calling her by name, “Hey Julia, I’m home! Now pour me a beer!” He lowered his shotgun from his shoulder to waist level and began shooting up the bottles of liquor on her shelves. The liquor and glass rained down on her behind the bar. All of it, every last bit, she or her family had brewed in the microbrewery underneath the lounge. She was enraged. Her family’s life work had been destroyed by a few gunshots.

She didn’t know who the masked intruder was, but as far as she was concerned he was a dead man.

She took a deep breath and rolled over, bracing her elbow on the floor. She peaked around the corner and he stood in defiance laughing at the carnage he’d just committed. She could hear more shooting off down the hallway, the intruders were making progress. She took aim and fired at his legs. The buckshot sprayed across his legs, tearing up his legs below the knee. He fell violently onto his face, his legs flying behind him from the force of the gunshot. He instantly started screaming in pain, and she waited to see if anyone came to his aid, but clearly the others had their own set of goals. She wondered how the intruder knew her name. She didn’t recognize his voice. She figured it might have been an inside job, that they had been given the layout of the compound, and told where everyone would be at what time. This was often the case during a political siege on the compound. Some politician who disagreed with the way the president and vice president were getting things done, so they’d send in guns for hire and overthrow the government in a matter of minutes. Typically, though, staff employees were not harassed during such raids. To have someone coming in, calling her out by name, and then taking aim at her bar was something different from the usual takeover.

She wanted to know why she was a target.

When she felt confident no one was coming back to aid their fallen comrade, she got off the floor and came out of cover. He had rolled over onto his back and was looking at his legs, screaming in pain and horror. She walked around in front of him and stepped on his right leg. He screamed and jerked his head back. She aimed the barrel of the gun at his face for intimidation.

“Who are you?” She asked. “How do you know my name?”

He jerked his mask off. “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.” She didn’t recognize him. “Please don’t stand on my leg, it hurts so bad.”

“How do you know my name?” She asked again.

“He told us names, gave us blueprints.” He said, still gasping for air.

“Who?” She demanded.

“I can’t say.” He said. She pushed her boot down harder into his leg, and he screamed so loud his voice broke. “PLEASE!”

Julian heard a lot of gunfire in the distance, and she could hear the voice of the First Lady screaming in horror. She knew it was about over. “I guess I’ll try my luck with someone else,” she said and cocked the shotgun. He stuck his hand out to block the shot, but it didn’t help and she destroyed his unfamiliar face along with it. She turned and saw Crenshaw leaning against a chair.

“I think I’m gonna be sick,” he said, “I’ve been moving around too much, too fast… too drunk.” He gave a burp in the back of his throat, and then he swallowed it.

She sighed and walked up to him. “I’m gonna do you a favor, Luther.”

“Yeah?” He asked, unsuspecting.

She hit him across the face with the butt of her shotgun, and he fell to the floor. He was out cold, and she figured it was best that way. He was no good to her or anyone in the state he was in. It was better for him, if the intruders thought he was counted amongst the dead. They’d be finished soon anyway, and after that they’d leave. They were just the hired muscle. Somebody else would be moving into the compound.

She wondered if should just hide and wait it out. But she thought about the man yelling her name. She was supposed to be dead. She reloaded her gun and stepped up to the hallway. She was too curious. She wanted to know who had ordered the siege and why she was a target. She didn’t like being roped into the politics of things. Her family had always remained neutral, why all of the sudden were they under attack?

She turned the corner and entered the hall. It was empty except for the carnage. The walls were sprayed with bullet holes and blood. There was a gray haze from the gunfire, looming in the hallway like fog. She slowly crept through the massacre, stepping and inching over bodies of the fallen bodyguards and intruders. The bottom of her flowing dress slid across the bodies as she moved along, collecting blood on its tip and weighing it down.

She stopped at the side of a bodyguard she recognized, he was the captain of the guard. She knelt down next to him and pried his handgun from his grip. She checked the clip, and it was only missing three of eight bullets. She searched the inner pocket of his jacket and found two more clips. She stood back up, and then slipped the handgun and clips into her leather belt she had wrapped around her dress. She took ahold of her shotgun with both hands once more, holding it at waist level and continued down the long hallway. She couldn’t hear any more gunfire. Either they were doing a final sweep or it was finished. Either way, they’d be coming back her way soon. She didn’t much feel like taking them all on by herself. She reached the first set of doors.

On the right side of the hallway was an open door, which led into the Presidential Library. Very few people ever set foot in the library at night, so she imagined it was empty. She approached the door on the left side, which was also left open. This door led into the dining room. It was typically empty at night, except for a few staff members finally getting to take in a late dinner. Since she had been targeted, she didn’t figure the kitchen staff had been spared either. She lowered her barrel some, and peaked inside and saw a stack of cooks and waitresses. They had been lined against a wall and gunned down.

Who assassinates waitresses and cooks? She asked herself, not sure if she’d ever know the truth.

She turned around just as a masked intruder stepped out of the library with a red book in one hand, and a pistol in the other. He looked up from the book and they made eye contact for a moment. Both startled, they froze for a second, and then each raised their weapons.

There was one, loud crashing sound of thunder.

She was tossed back into the wall, and he went flying backwards into the library. The book flew across the hallway and landed in her lap after she had crashed on the floor. She sat for a moment in shock with her back against the wall. Then, she felt the pain and it came on fast and piercing. Her neck was writhing in pain, and she reached up to it. He had managed to shoot her at the base of her neck. She felt a hole and it was pouring out warm blood. That was when she noticed she wasn’t breathing, but gasping for air and choking on blood. She heard voices yelling and coming closer.

She looked down and saw the book.

It was red and very old, but it had been kept in decent condition. The title, written in gold letters on the binding, was Wuthering Heights and had been written by an Emily Brontë. She hadn’t heard of either the title or the name. She wondered what it could be about.

The voices were getting louder.

She reached out and picked up the book, her hands smeared blood across the cover. She opened it and turned a few pages, making bloody fingerprints as she did so. It was a second edition print, printed in 1943. It had survived many years, including the time when The Order tried to burn all books. This book, like all of the books in the Presidential Library, was a door to another time. A time almost completely forgotten and trodden under foot with the progression of time and hate.

The voices had become much clearer, but suddenly they stopped. She couldn’t turn her head to look, but she heard footfalls coming towards her. She knew she didn’t have long. She needed to make these precious moments count.

She turned the pages and found chapter one of the book. She started to read.


#ebook, #longread, #sciencefiction, #scifi, #shortstory, #writing