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These are excerpts from my three novels.  The first, "Blood Brothers" is a 90,000 word thriller novel that is complete.  The second, "Revelations Past" is just in the beginning stages, as is the third, "Perfect Solitude"

Blood Brothers


By: Barry D. Frisbee



Chapter One






The scents of mildew, tobacco and sweat impregnated the cinderblock walls of the windowless interrogation room.  The small gray room closed in around him, fraught with fragments of sadness, tragedy, and a myriad of other emotions that had passed through it.  The old building, like most, held memories.  Memories of yesterday?  Memories of twenty years past?  He wasn’t sure.  But today these echoes were nothing but distractions, distractions he could ill afford.  Special Agent Lucas O’Donnell pushed back hard.  Tonight, he needed to bring down a madman, not deal with distractions.

“What do you see, Ronni?”  Lucas asked, his voice quiet and patient.

She offered no immediate answer.  Through clumped strands of red hair the furrow of her brow revealed she’d heard him, but had not yet established the needed link.   In her gaunt hand she clutched a small white button.  Torn from the killer’s shirt by his last young victim, it was the only piece of physical evidence ever recovered from the meticulous killer.  It would provide Ronni with the link, the passageway she needed into the killer’s twisted mind.

Lucas sensed the tension in her, feeling her disgust as it lay heavy in the stagnant air.  It wasn’t a speculation, Lucas felt her emotions as clearly as he felt his own, yet her gifts went far beyond those he possessed ---or admitted.

Though the usually hectic third floor of the federal building now sat quiet and nearly abandoned, Lucas’ office sat dead center of those colleagues that remained for the night shift.  He knew first hand that not all things could be explained with science, but still elected the late evening hours and the discreet room for their task, keeping Ronni’s help private to minimize the scorn of his colleagues.

 “Talk to me, Ronni?” he prodded again, fighting to keep the sense of urgency from his voice.  “Talk to me.”

She sighed.  “He’s too strong.  His mind  . . . it’s too dark,” she said visibly shaken.

“Ronni, we need to know what he’s thinking.”

“If I go deeper, the darkness could pull me in.”

“You’ll find the way, Ronni.  I’ll help you.  We’ve never been this close to him, and we’ve gotta know where he’s going.  He’s on the hunt again, and if we don’t stop him----."  Lucas stopped short of finishing his sentence, not wanting to put any additional stress on her, but if they didn’t get a break very soon, another child would be dead in a matter of hours.

She slowly unclenched her hand, opened her eyes and offered her free hand to him.  “Come with me?” she asked in a remorseful tone.

 Lucas had been down this rabbit hole before and wasn’t sure he was up to a repeat performance.  “I can’t see what you see when we go together.  You know that.”  He looked for any excuse to not go.

“You’ll be there, that’s enough.”

Closing her eyes once more, she bowed her head and released a long, ragged breath. For an eternal moment she did not move.  If not for her eyes darting from side to side beneath her tightly drawn eyelids, she could’ve passed for dead. Once again she tightened her grasp around the button, she pulled it snuggly to her chest, and extended her other hand toward Lucas.

“Damn,” Lucas said beneath his breath and took the offered hand.

He immediately sank into an abyss of utter darkness.  It felt as though he were drowning in molasses as he descended further into the chasm.  Falling.  Falling.  He instinctively grasped the arm of the chair with his free hand, hoping to slow the plunge.  He struggled to calm his breathing, to slow his pounding heart.  Panic was rapidly approaching.  He couldn’t see.  He couldn’t breathe.

Slowly, the world she so often tread, came upon him.   She was right; the killer was extremely strong, dirty, and evil.  He followed, as she struggled, trying to stay near the surface, treading the murky waters of his consciousness, afraid to delve into the darkest trenches of his mind.  Lucas felt the familiar desire, the lust for blood, but he also felt Ronni here.  He wondered if she knew, knew what he tried so desperately to hide.

“He’s driving,” she whispered as if afraid of being heard by the monster.

 Lucas was unsure if the words were spoken aloud or if she had merely thought them.

“He’s looking for something, a street address, but he’s lost,"

Lucas’s heart began to slow to a manage rate, allowing him to focus.  Still he was only able to capture bits and pieces of what was going on, an occasional sound and even less frequently an image.  Mostly, he could feel, feel the lust, the overwhelming desire for blood.  So much rage, he thought.  He was going to kill tonight.

“Why the anger, Ronni?”  Lucas was finally able to speak.  “These guys get anxious, excited, even euphoric before a kill, but not upset.  What is it?  What has him so disturbed?”

“He’s lost,” she repeated.  “It makes him feel out of control, and there is something with the newspaper . . . an article about him . . . It . . . you called him weak.”

“I’ll teach that inbred son-of-a-bitch,” she said in a strangely different voice.

“Pull back just a little, Ronni,” Lucas warned.  “Focus.  Where is he?”

“It’s raining.  The windows are fogged.  I can’t see outside the car.”

Lucas suddenly caught a glimpse inside the car and heard the tattoo of rain on the roof, and just as suddenly as it had appeared, it was gone.

“What’s he thinking?  Stay with him,” Lucas urged, trying to keep her on track.  “I’m right here with you.”

“He’s stopping, turning into a neighborhood.  He out of the car,” she said.

Lucas felt the sting of the cold rain as if it were he that it drenched.  “Tell me about the neighborhood.”

“It’s a short cul-de-sac, maybe a dozen homes.  The homes are mostly brick and stucco, traditional style.  He’s walking, staying in the shadows, studying the houses, afraid of being noticed.”

Lucas struggled to stay on track, trying to concentrate.   The hunger for blood grew exponentially, nearly unbearable.  Was it his or the killer’s.

There’s one house,” she said.  “There are cars in the drive, but the house is dark.  He can’t see inside.  It worries him.”

"He's close, Ronni."  Lucas felt a strong sense of exhilaration and was unsure how much longer he could take this emotional roller-coaster.  "Damn close.  We have to fins something . . . anything that'll give us his location."

“He’s stopping in front of a two-story stucco house.  There’s a gas lamp in the front, a dog is barking in the backyard.”

Another short burst flashed in Lucas’ mind, too short be distinguishable, but something was hauntingly familiar.

“He’s looking at the mailbox, the number is---“

Lucas suddenly smelled gardenia and was momentarily comforted by thoughts of home and the overgrown bushes his wife had asked him time and time again to trim.  The sudden calmness slowly gave way to the return of panic as he started piecing flashes, sounds, and smells together.  Another flash, this time longer, long enough for Lucas to realize what had haunted him so.

“Two Twenty-five!” Lucas said through gritted teeth, finishing her thought.

Lucas began pulling mentally back, pulling, trying to break free from this world.  He’d never done so without Ronni’s guidance, but there was no time.  He had to move now, before it was too late.

“No!” he finally screamed, yanking his hand free and rushing for the door.

She darted after him.  “Lucas!” she yelled.”

He stopped in the stairwell door.

“He knows you’ll come, Lucas.  He’s waiting for you.  It’s a trap!”

“I know,” he responded and hit the stairwell running.  As he took the stairs three and four at a time, he mentally berated himself for not being there with Beth and Abby.  Cases like this had always brought out the worst in him, a darker side that he fought to control.  This case had pushed their relationship to the edge, and he spent most nights at the office.


Leaping into his truck, he sped out of the parking garage, turned down the music and punched a speed dial number on his cell phone.  

“Pick up the phone, Beth.  Pick up the phone.”  He repeated the mantra with each ring.

The car fishtailed onto the side street, finally catching traction as the phone clicked, a short pause, and then the young voice came onto the line.  “O’Donnell residence.”

“Abby, this is Daddy.  Let me speak to your mom.”

“She’s gone down to the basement to let Dexter out.  He’s barking at the rain again.”

“Abby, listen, this is very important.  Yell for her to stop and come to the phone right away.  Tell her daddy said it was an emergency.”

“Daddy, when are you coming home?”

“Abby, there’s no time for this now.”  He raised his voice.  “Get your mother, now!”  He heard her place the phone down and move through the house shouting for her mother.  Her loud, but casual calls suddenly turned to shrieking hysteria and then a long moment of silence.  The silence scared him most of all.

“Come alone and they’ll be alive when you get here,” a composed, quiet voice finally spoke through the line.  “Any other visitors and we shall all die tonight.”  The line clicked and a deafening silence filled his ear.

He pushed the gas pedal to the floor and hit another speed dial number.  With his light flashing, Lucas weaved in and out through the vehicles in his path.  Rush hour traffic was long done for the day, but the streets were drenched as another line of ominous thunderstorms began pounding the city, causing traffic to move along sluggishly.  Sheets of rain blurred the windshield, but he dared not slow down.  A second wasted could mean the lives of Beth and Abby.


His home stood eerily quiet, cloaked in darkness at the end of the street.  He noted the tag number on the car parked by the entrance to the neighborhood, punched it into his laptop, receiving an instant match.  He wrote the name a tag number on a notepad, and laid it in the passenger seat.  What could he expect, he wondered?  He slowed to enter his driveway, and his phone rang, causing his heart to skip a beat.

“Welcome home, Agent O'Donnell.  I don’t suspect you had enough sense to come alone.  Or did you?”

“I’m alone.”

“We shall see, my friend.  We shall see”

 “What is it that you want?” Lucas asked with a forced calm.

          “Why, it’s you, Lucas.  It’s you that I want.  We have become quite close, you and I, but you’re beginning to annoy me, my dear friend.  You’re taking all the fun out of my game, and I can't have that.  Now . . . the front door is unlocked and your family eagerly awaits your arrival.”

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Revelations Past



Senator Warren Beaureguard watched as the submersible was hoisted from the deck by two monstrous cranes.  “Gentlemen,” he spoke in his comforting southern inflection to the group of high-ranking officers.  “Our future, at best . . . is uncertain.  We teeter on a razor thin and dangerous line, and this mission, although necessary, could alter our lives beyond any believable comprehension.  I pray that we’re wrong about what lies at the bottom of this godless trench, but I fear that we are not.”

The tether lines slackened as the craft’s buoyancy adopted the weight from them.  Several hand signals followed by a blaring horn indicated the start of the vessel’s descent as the tanks flooded.

The two-man submersible was nearly half a football field long, but spared barely enough space for the two crewmembers and leaving virtually no room for maneuvering.  The Hippo had not been designed for manned missions, but as a remote control, robotic laboratory for deep-sea exploration.  It wasn’t until congress, and specifically Senator Beaureguard threatened to withdraw the project’s funding unless it was manned, that the craft was redesigned.

At the controls, Lieutenant Commander Anthony Jarvis watched the split-screen monitor as it fed information from six outside cameras and nearly a hundred different sensors.  Beside him watching another set of equally impressive monitors and gauges was Doctor Lynn McKalister.  With PhDs in Oceanography, Anthropology, and Archeology he could hardly argue her qualifications, but she was a civilian, and in his idea of a perfect world, she didn’t belong here.  It wasn’t that he disliked her.  She was a hell of a gal and scientist, he thought, but eight miles below the surface of the ocean was not a place he figured she should be, at least not in a military operation.

The seas were high, making for a rough ride at first, but the expedition drove on, plunging deeper into the trench than had ever been accomplished before.  No human, at least not living, had ever been so deep.  There’d been those who’d tried, and their remains rested somewhere on the bed of this seemingly bottomless ditch.  The enormous pressure outside their craft taunted them through the singular window.  The dark sea waited for its chance to swallow them up, to crush their brittle bodies like the others and claim their souls for its trophy.

He slowed the Hippo’s descent into the blackness, bringing it to a smooth, quiet stop at thirty-seven thousand feet.  The long ride down had been quiet.  At one time this had been the very bottom of the sea, the deepest point along the Marianas Trench.  But early in 2012 a massive shift of tectonic plates had further opened the trench to nearly twice its previous depth. Many a crew had tried to search out the bottom since that day, but all had failed, and found the bottom only in death.

 The combination of the earthquakes and tsunamis that followed the shift wiped out a good portion of the west coast of the United States as well as any other landmasses bordering the Pacific Ocean.  In Los Angeles alone, more than two hundred, thousand perished as the mammoth surge devastated all in its path, extending nearly ten miles inland.

“What’re you doing, Tony?  Did you see something?”

“No, Doc.  Nothing,” he said as he continued flipping switches, bringing them to a dead silent rest.

“Okay, Tony.  You don’t expect me to fall for the, “I’ve run out of gas story,” do ya?  After all,” she said pointing topside, “they can hear everything that goes on down here.”

“Can't now,” he said flipping the transmit switch on the communications panel.

“Major Jarvis,” she spoke losing the playful tone in her voice.  “If this is about me not being military or shouldn’t be here because of some pig-headed male chauvinist attitude then I”---

“Do you think you could possibly pipe down for just a second?”

“Pipe down?”

“Yeah.  Did you know when you get all excited that there’s a little blue vein that pops out on your forehead?  It’s really kind of cute.”

“Tony, if I could move right now, I swear I would kick the living shit out of you.  Now what’re you trying to pull?”

“I just wanted to . . . put the brakes on for a moment.  Ever since the Rover sent back those images from down here, everyone’s been running around like chickens with their heads cut off.  We’ve got Senators, National Security Advisors and Brass out the wazzoo trying to run the show, and I think we’re letting the magnitude of the moment slip by without its proper notice.”

“What do you mean?  Everyone is very dedicated to this mission.”

“Hell, Lynn, we just passed thirty-seven, thousand feet.  We’re nearly a thousand feet deeper than anyone has ever been before, and we’re barely halfway to the floor.  Where’s the hoopla?  Where’s the celebration?  This thing was designed and tested for equipment, not us.  Sure, this add on cockpit is supposedly capable of taking the stress, but sometimes there is a big difference between theory and practice.  If there’s so much as a pinhead sized defect in this bucket, it’ll fold around us like a tin can, and no one would ever know what we’ve done.”

“Look, Tony, I know what you’re getting at, but we’ve gotta make sure of what we have before anyone outside the loop gets a look at it.  What would a cowboy like you do with fame and fortune anyway?”

“The fame you can keep, but as for the fortune, I’d spend on good booze, cheap women, and gambling, and if there was anything left, I’d waste it.”

“Well, don’t count you money yet, there’s not gonna be any hoopla and there’s not a whole lot either of us can do to change that.”

“Now see, that’s where you’re wrong,” he said as he stretched to open a small auxiliary storage compartment.  Producing two plastic cups and a small carafe of champagne, “to us,” he said, “and to new frontiers, whether they be of this earth or the far reaches beyond.”  

She held her cup up to his and smiled with affirmation. “You realize, of course, that they’re shitting a brick topside right now.  Kendall doesn’t like being left in the dark, especially with the Senator breathing down his neck.”

“Oh, he’ll get over it, he’s wound a little too tight anyway.”

“Yeah, especially since the Rover malfunctioned.  You still uptight about those last few photos?” she asked.

“It bothers me, Lynn.  I got a sneaky feeling, a feeling we’re about to cross a border that can't be uncrossed.”

“So, you think we should just ignore this find, bury our heads in the sand and pretend we never found it?”

“No, not at all.  This thing, whatever it is, could turn the whole friggin world upside down and I’m just not sure we’re giving it the weight it deserves.  We’re in such a rush to dig it up that we’re not thinking about the consequences.”

“Okay,” she said.  “So we slow it down a bit from here on out?”

“One last thing and I’ll shut up.”

“I hate to even ask, but what?”

“I want to leave the camera feed to the topside off, until we both agree to send what ever we find through the wire.  We can tell Kendall that it’s malfunctioning.”

She thought for a moment, downed the remaining drops of champagne and agreed.

He began flipping switches, bringing the lifeless submersible back online.  He skipped over the uplink for the camera feed and lastly flipped the switch opening the communications channel back to the surface.

“Hippo!  Hippo!  Do you read me, Hippo?” Kendall’s voice frantically summoned over the speaker.

“Yeah, we hear you, Frank.  We hear you.”

“What the hell is going on down there, Tony?”

“Just a program glitch, don’t get your panties in a wad.  She’s up and running again.”

“We’re not getting a camera feed.  We’re gonna bring you up.”

“Negative, Frank!  Negative!  Our camera is recording fine.  We’re not coming up.”

A long silence ensued, “Roger that,” Frank Kendall finally responded.

“Shall we?” he asked, dialing new numbers into the depth indicator.

“Hell, why not,” she said, punching the button that sent them slowly deeper to the new waypoint.

Outside the craft a new universe of life unveiled itself.  The curious life forms swimming effortlessly outside their window, undaunted by massive water pressure, seemed as enamored of them as they were in return.  The jagged edges of the crevice jutted out toward them like claws of a giant sea creature threatening to pull them in, but disappeared into the darkness as they seemed to drop straight away again toward the vast unknown.

Reaching the waypoint, Tony squeezed the transmit button, “fifty-three thousand feet,” he said, “roughly ten miles.”

“Roger, Tony.  How’s she looking?”

“So far, so good.”

The mike from topside keyed several times in quick succession and broken voices spurted unintelligible bits during the keyed stages.

“Negative, sir.”

“I have---presi---tial---thority---order.”

A few more undistinguishable blurbs followed before a steady voice came over the line.  “Major Jarvis, this is Senator Beaureguard.  I’m sure you are aware that you are nearing the site, and I’d like detailed descriptions of what you’re finding there, Sir.  It is imperative that we have these in case . . . well, in case something would happen, God forbid.”

“Roger, Senator, but the area appears to be pretty narrow and treacherous.”

“And, just what are you telling me, Sir?”

“What I’m telling you, Sir, is that my first duty is the safety of this craft, and I will not be distracted from its operation to give you a play by play.  If I see something I feel is significant, I will tell you.”  He unkeyed the mike and winked at Dr. McKalister.

“Sixty-two five,” she said looking at the digital meter.

“Roger,” he said and began to slow the craft in preparation for the bottom.

Another fifty feet and the spotlights began to pick up the floor.  The reverse engines stirred the silt into a murky cloud, blurring the outside view, but only momentarily.  Like wind blown smoke an unknown force swept it away leaving the water once again clearly lit.  The crevice walls seamed strangely alive with colorful displays, whether they were mineral deposits or some sort of plant life, they weren’t quite sure.  Eerily they noticed all the life forms from a few thousand feet above had suddenly disappeared.  Had they crossed some sort of unseen boundary?  Had they gone too far?  The bottom was a dead and desolate place.

“We’re on bottom, Senator, nothing here to report.  GPS shows us about a half kilometer west of target.  We’re repositioning now.”

Hydraulic pumps groaned loudly as they pushed gigantic tracks from the bottom of the craft lifting it onto four squatty legs, giving it the look of its namesake, the Hippo.  Within minutes it was slowly edging its way across the ocean floor.  The only sign of movement outside was escaping gasses from the ocean floor.  The only sounds were monitors beeping, the sounds of their nervous breathing and the occasional groan from the Hippo as it fought to maintain its structural integrity.

“Something’s coming up in about forty meters,” she said.

“What is it?”

“Can't tell.  The monitor just shows a dark spot.  Better ease up on it.”

“Ease up?  A damn snail moves faster than this thing.”

“You’re the Captain,” she shrugged.

“Tell that to the Senator, would ya?”

She chuckled.  Then yelled, “stop!” as the right front track slipped over the drop.

Holding their breath, they waited for the inevitable failure of the hull. “Damn,” he finally spoke.  “I thought we were fish bait.”

“What’s going on down there?” the Senator spoke.

“Senator, can you please put Kendall back on?”

“Just a minute, Commander.  I have complete authority when it comes to this mission.”

“Senator, I don’t give a rat’s ass who is in charge up there.  Ya’ll can hash all that out a little later on, but unless you know the intricate details of this craft, or the multi-functional dynamics of hydraulics and the effects of massive water pressure has on such, I would suggest you put someone on the mike that does.”

“Multi-functional dynamics of hydraulics?” she questioned.  “What the heck are you talking about?”

“Shoot, Lynn, I don’t know.  Lets just see if it works.”

Silence lofted over the frequency.  Finally the radio crackled and Kendall spoke.  “What’s the situation, Tony?”

“Well, there seems to be a drop off here.  Our right front track is over and appears to be stuck.”

“Have you tried reversing course?”

“Negative.  Everything seems to be up and running, but we wanted to run it by you prior to acting.  You designed this thing.  Can she take the pressure, if we put her in a bind trying to back up?”

“Honestly, Tony, I don’t know.  Technically yes, but I wouldn’t bet your life on it.  How deep is the drop?”

“Couple hundred feet, I would guess.”

“Damn, I suppose we have to try to back her up then.  I’ll read off the sequence you’ll need to reassign the hydraulic pressure to the other three tracks.  You don’t want the stuck one to rev and suddenly get traction.  The torque could cause a hull breach.”

“Well, that’s a cheery thought.  Hang on.”

The entire room waited for a response.  “Kendall,” he finally spoke.  “We don’t like the backing option.  I am going to purge the tanks a little, just enough to gain some buoyancy and then we’re going to ride her down to the bottom.”

“Tony, the Hippo was not designed to float with the legs down.  I’m not sure how she’ll respond to the controls in open water.  The reverse engines may not operate and you could hit bottom or the side awfully hard.”

“What do you think?” he asked her.

“I think I should’ve listened when you said I didn’t belong down here.  Are there any other options?”

“I don’t think so.  Right now it’s either forward or reverse.”

“Well, we’ve seen what’s behind us.  I say we go forward.”

“Kendall, we’re going forward.  I’ll advise as soon as we hit bottom.”

“Roger, Tony.  Good luck.”

“Before we do this, let me ask you something,” he said.

“What?” she asked.

“How about having dinner with me tonight, in my quarters?”

“Dinner?  You’re asking me to dinner?  We’ve got a better than good chance of being dead in the next few minutes.  I don’t think this is the time.”

“Yeah?  Well the way I figure, it’s the perfect time to ask?”

“I’m gonna be sorry I asked, but what kind of logic is that?”

“Well, if you tell me no and we die, then I wont have to live with the rejection, but if we live, I’ll be so thrilled that I won’t give a shit.”

“Let’s make it through this, Tony.  We’ll worry about eating arrangements later.”

“Okay,” he said without missing a beat.  “I’ll take that as a yes.  Give me twenty percent on the tanks.”

“Roger, twenty percent.”

The hippo groaned, but did not move.

“Twenty-five,” he said.

“Twenty-five,” she nodded and crossed her fingers.

Still no movement, the track was stuck over the edge and the only way to test the buoyancy was to go forward.

“Thirty should do the trick,” he said,  “but be ready for more if we need it.”

“Thirty it is.”

“Here we go, Kendall,” he said into the mike.  “If this thing folds, I’m coming back to haunt you.”

With no answer from above, he eased the lever forward to one-quarter.  The hippo popped, whined and groaned, but edged forward, dropping the other front track over the sea cliff.

The nose started a downward tilt and he yelled, “thirty-five, Lynn!  Give me thirty-five.”

Dialing in the numbers without a response, she held her breath as the nose sluggishly leveled off.  The underside of the Hippo scraped the rock overhang creating a loud squeal, before it rose back to level.  “Thirty-five is a good number,” she said, releasing a long ragged breath.

“I think you’re right,” he said pushing the throttle another notch forward.

Switching to stern cameras, she announced the rear tracks are about to clear the drop.
            “Roger.  Be ready.  We may need another shot of air.”


The rear tracks cleared the drop and the Hippo started a slow, controlled descent.

“What do you think, Tony?”

“Let her go.  Give me full power on the lights and forward and below monitors.”

She flipped several switches in quick succession and punched in a quick command on the keyboard bringing the requested configuration online.  “How deep you think it is?”

“Not sure.  I just hope it has a soft bottom,” he said.

The slow descent was smooth, but nerve racking.  At the meager pace of a few feet per second, it allowed for a lifetime of reflection.  Eyes glued onto the four monitor screens, neither spoke.

“There,” she spoke excitedly.

Flipping several switches and easing back on the yoke, the reversers came online and again stirred up the soft silt bottom.

“We’re on bottom, again, Kendall.”

“Great, Tony.  You had some folks holding their breath up here.  You see anything?”

“Not yet.  I’ve got a cloud of silt.”

As the silt settled the crushed remains of the Rover became visible, reminding them of unthinkable possibilities.

She looked at him and shrugged, “at least we got a few photos from it, even if they weren’t definitive.”

“Yeah, I just don’t want to end up like---Holy crap!  What the hell is that?”

“Zooming the port camera, she watched as the silt settled, unveiling the prize.  Seven towering, serpent-like heads protruded from the bottom.  As if frozen in

time, their eyes glassy and unfocused.

            “They look like some sort of . . . sea serpents.”

            “Look at that,” he said pointing to the monitor.  “Looks like the body.  I don’t think there are seven of them.  It looks like one body, seven heads.”

            Frantically working at the data terminal, she began searching for an obscure morsel.

            “What is it, Lynn.  What are you looking for?”

            “Hang on . . . I’m almost there . . . Here it is,” she said taking a deep breath before beginning.


“Revelations 13.1  And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns.

  Revelations 20.1. And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.  And he laid hold on the dragon . . . and bound him . . . cast him into the bottomless pit.”


What’s going on down there, Tony?” Kendall questioned.  “Tony?  Dammit, Tony, do you read me?”

He looked at her with a bit of shock, neither spoke as he lifted his hand and flipped the breaker, sending the camera feed topside, putting an end to the insistent query.

At the very boundaries of her peripheral vision she caught the slight movement, but was suddenly unsure if it was real or if she was just spooked from the whole encounter.  She couldn’t take her eyes off the floating heads, seemingly close enough to touch.  She placed the palm of her hand against the thick glass as the deep black eyes of the beast began to gradually turn from a cavernous death to a bright glowing light.  She could hear her name called again and again as alarms began to ring all about her, but she could not turn away from the beast’s radiance.

“Kendall, do you read me?  Do you read me?” he shouted into the microphone.  “We have multiple malfunctions and alarms.  I’m jettisoning tracks, purging the tanks and getting the hell out of here.”  The radio offered only static in response.

He watched her as he took the necessary steps to get the craft moving again.  Her face glowed red as the light entranced her through the tiny window.

The tracks were loosed.  The tanks were purged, but still they didn’t move.  Something, some force was holding them.  He couldn’t keep up with all the alarms sounding and Lynn was not responding to him.  He needed to break whatever bond this thing held her in.  A strange thought came to him.  Maybe the craft was not being held down, maybe it was her.

Unsnapping his safety harness, he flipped himself over, trying to avoid looking at the light glaring through the portal now.  With an awkward lunge he place an operating manual over the window, breaking the light.  The Hippo suddenly surged upward as if he had broken a tether line.  The sudden heave sent him railing into Lynn’s lap.

As the craft quickly moved upward and away from the creature the radios began to crackle with frantic calls from above.  “Break, break, break,” he shouted in rapid succession, trying to get through the hysteria.

When the frequency went quiet, he looked at Lynn’s burnt face, her solid white, milky eyeballs and spoke urgently into the mike, “Frank, we’re coming up fast.  We’ll need an emergency crew standing by and get the rotors on a med-evac helicopter spinning and ready.”

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Perfect Solitude




He awoke on a late summer day to a deathly calm.  Every day of his life, his mother had awakened him, at 7:00 am sharp . . . but not today.  A structured life, she’d preached, was his only chance for survival when she was gone.

It was much more than just oversleeping though.  She was not there.  He could feel it.  He lay perfectly still and listened.  No cars moved on the street below, or planes overhead, something was terribly wrong.  Over the next few hours he would discover, that not only was his mother gone, but so was everyone else.  Simply vanished.



Two Months Later




            With a grease-stained hand, Thaddeus pushed unruly strands of hair from his eyes, looked at the crazed monkey and wondered how he’d ever thought his absurd plan would work.  A low rattling noise, much like that of choking, started in the back of his throat and quickly evolved into gut-wrenching, roll-in-the-floor laughter.

            “Sweet mother of Jesus!” he proclaimed.  “Jinx, did you see the size of that fireball?” he asked the monkey as if he expected an answer.

            Cocking his head to the side, he paused, lending an intent ear to his companion, then replied, “What the hell you mean, you’ve seen bigger?  That’s a damn lie . . . Bigger my ass.”

            He continued to mumble as he reloaded the cannon.  "Seen bigger?  I'll show you bigger."

The simple homemade device consisted of a long section of eight-inch sewer-pipe, capped at the bottom end, with a quarter inch hole bored into the center of the cap.  It was similar, however much larger than a potato cannon he and his father had built for a local science fair.  The selection of the projectiles and the addition of gasoline to create the fireballs were his ideas.  Dad wouldn't have approved.

            He poured the high-octane gasoline from the milk jug, coating the inside of the cylinder with a generous measure of the golden, volatile liquid.  Plucking another stuffed animal from the pile, he chose carefully for trajectory and velocity, then soaked it and whistled for the monkey.

            Jinx scurried across the rooftop and grabbed the dripping wet toy.  He climbed the cylinder and shoved the missile into the end of the tube, before hurrying off behind the wall for protection.

            Through the small hole in the cap, he filled the bottom half of the cylinder with hairspray as he started the count.  He'd discovered the cheaper hairsprays ignited better, but after loosing all the hair on his right arm, he’d found letting the fuel dry, made for a much safer lighting.

As he counted, he looked over the desolate city.  “Where’d they all go?” he mumbled, nearly in a cry.  “Why’d I get left?”

He turned sharply and screamed at the monkey cowering behind the wall.  “I aint stupid!  Momma said I was just . . . a bit slow.  Besides, there were plenty of stupid people, and they’re gone.  Everyone’s gone.”

He snorted, lit the match and sent another fireball soaring over the building tops.  “Bet someone will see that one,” he said in a kinder tone.

Jinx grabbed a stuffed animal, this time a white monkey with a long striped tail and offered it up to Thaddeus.

“No,” Thaddeus said.  “I’m hungry.  Let’s stop for the day.”

Jinx moved to place the stuffed lemur back onto the pile, but paused, looked at it, then at Thaddeus and tucked the companion under his left arm.  Offering his right hand to Thaddeus, they walked away.

"What'll it be, Jinxy, beans and taters, or taters and beans?"  He laughed.

Jinx chirped, clicked, then grunted.

"Great Idea!  Let's get cleaned up.  Spam it is, little fella."

One floor down, in a penthouse suite that encompassed the entire upper floor of the tower, the two dirty companions entered.  Thaddeus lit a manmade fire log, burning the chill off the room.  He opened the heavy drapes, allowing the last bit of the day’s light to enter.  With no one to run the power, water, gas and other utilities, they had lasted only a couple days.

He glanced at his digital wristwatch, then at a long V formation of geese moving across the orange, western sky.  "Seven-ten," he said.  "It's gonna be winter soon.  We can't stay here, Jinx.  We've gotta move south."


With a stomach full of Spam, beans and canned peaches, Thaddeus laid his weary head on the fine linens of the feather pillow as a deafening silence fell over him.  Never in his life had he heard such a calm.  Even the wind that usually whistled outside his high-rise window rested.

He wished Jinx would keep him company, but he was long since asleep, huddled in the corner with his newfound companion tucked caringly under his arm.  Thaddeus hated this time of the day.  The voices were always the strongest just before sleep.  Maddeningly vague, they were never close enough or clear enough to make sense.  Occasionally, he'd catch a word or two, but nothing comprehensible or meaningful.

Taking a deep breath, he patted his full belly and fought back a belch.  He started his nightly ritual by sandwiching his head between two pillows and beginning to hum.  The sound flooded his head, holding the voices at bay for the moment, as he closed his eyes.  Knowing his attempt feeble, he dreaded the moment just before sleep, when the humming involuntarily stopped and they would come.

The pitch and quality of the voices invoked memories of swimming on his grandpa's farm.  As a child, he could hold his breath beneath the water for nearly two minutes.  The sound of his mother's panicked pleas, distorted by the water was as close as he could come to describing the haunting voices.  "Thaddeus!  Thaddeus!" she'd scream, her voice becoming ever clearer as he lessened the span separating him and the surface.

As his muscles relaxed and the humming quieted, he heard it, the subtle music of wind chimes, the distant sound of a siren and the beckoning voice, "Thaddeus?  Thaddeus?" and as in his grandpa's lake, he surfaced only long enough the get a deep, clear breath and then back below the distorting water.  The voices became more and more distant, fading along with his grasp on the conscious world.





He woke refreshed, but still troubled by last night's encounter.  What had it meant?  Where were the sounds and voices coming from?  Was he somehow picking up the thoughts of someone else, someone not there?  Possibly, he thought.  He'd not been able to hear the animals speak before the mass disappearance, but now he could hear and understand Jinx perfectly.

"So, maybe I am picking up someone's thoughts," he spoke to Jinx, now at the foot of his borrowed bed.  "That means that there is somebody else out there.  I'm not alone!"

Jinx snorted, leaped from the bed and darted quickly out of the room.  "I didn't mean it like that," Thaddeus yelled.  "I mean another human.  Damn sensitive monkey.  I swear."

He threw his legs over the side of the bed, stepped into the slippers embroidered Royal Hotel and moved off to put his master plan into motion.

"Jinx, I know you're mad at me now, but we have lots to do today."

Jinx looked at him, then at his toy, pulled it close to him and turned away.

"Don't worry, buddy.  We're all done with the cannon.  Today is moving day."

Jinx, turned back to him.

"How's south Florida sound to you?  Warm weather, the ocean, all the fresh fruit you can eat, and who knows, we may meet some other folks on the way . . . "

"Sure, Jinx.  Bring your buddy along . . . "

"No, I can't drive, but I can ride a two-wheeler, Daddy taught me, just before he . . . left."  He paused, momentarily saddened by the thought, but then continued.  "Old man Carson had a bike, we could use it."

"Right again."  He shook his head.  "We can have any bike we want.  We'll borrow one from Benny's Bikes, maybe the red one in the window.


The heavy gauged wire covering the windows and doors at Benny's proved to be more formidable that he'd expected, and after several failed attempts to gain entry, he gave up and trudged two blocks over to Wal-Mart.  The large glass-front window gave little resistance and came down with a thundering crash, causing him instinctively look around to see if anyone heard.

"This is better anyway," he said to Jinx.  "We can get all our supplies here."

He found a fifteen-speed mountain bike, a baby seat for Jinx and a pull-behind kid cart to carry all their supplies.  Surprising to himself and with little effort, he methodically chose the items they would need for their long journey south.  A small pup tent would do if they found themselves stuck on a long stretch of road with no shelter for the night.  He figure one large sleeping bag would be sufficient for the three of them.  Jinx and Buddy didn’t take up much room.  He took battery-operated lanterns, flashlights and a radio.  Though, for now, it only picked up static, he had hopes of more.  He took canteens, backpacks, a change of clothes, two boxes of energy bars, a pocket atlas, a Swiss army knife, and a .45 caliber automatic pistol just to be safe.

He'd never fired a pistol, but his dad had carried a .45 on his job and had let him see it on occasion.  He found and read a free pamphlet distributed by the NRA on gun safety, and again surprised himself on how easily he read and understood the contents, not at all his normal struggle to sound out each syllable.

Loading the supplies into the cart, he thought about what might lay ahead, jubilation, mediocrity, or disappointment, it made no difference, he couldn’t stay here.  Giving the rubber ball at the end of the bicycle horn several quick squeezes, he signaled the beginning of their journey.

By the time he'd reached the bridge, the sun perched high in the mid-day sky.  Occasional gauzy clouds attempted to block its rays, but only succumbed to its might.  The bridge had always been a favorite place of his.  The massive amounts of steel, concrete, and cable were far beyond his simple comprehension, yet he felt somewhat akin to it.  Memories of picnics in the park with his mother, shadowed by the bridge, brought a smile to his face.

He leaned his bike and cart against the rail and peered over at the silken water below.  The flickers of sunlight danced across the rippled water sending shards of light into his squinted eyes.  In the cadence of the flickering light, the intrusive sounds began to etch their way back into the recesses of his mind, indistinguishable voices, electronic beeps, and the sound of tinkling wind chimes.

A sudden movement at the boundary of his peripheral vision brought him rushing back to the moment.  Jinx chirped and squawked at the perfect V, flying through the air.  The formation of geese fought the wind, nearly stationary.

          Thaddeus shook his head to clear his thoughts, boarded his bike, leaned into the wind and started across the bridge.  Affixed to the back of his bike, a simple, handwritten sign read.  FLORIDA OR BUST.