On with the story............greenspun.com : LUSENET : FRL friends : One Thread
Before we get started, I have to warn you. Kit and I are still much on the road, and will be into the summer. But we’re getting home for 3 or 4 days at at time, and I just thought I’d catch up with old Alexander Lawless. I have absolutely no idea of where this is going, and my installments may be far between, but maybe we’ll have a story out of it. Besides, it has been way to quiet around here lately.
We’ll begin where we left off ---
“YOUR MACHINE!? Why you pig-kissin’, low-down,..”
Ysandr stuck the barrel of his automatic pistol under the chin of his outraged captive.
“Yes, Odelon, MY machine, because I say it is. And I’ve got a ticket on it to paradise. Only this time, I’ll be traveling alone.”
He backed away from the old clown and stepped quickly into the door of the machine. As the glow intensified, Lucky slipped off the contrary left boot, which had never been fully back on his foot. When the humming had reached it’s crescendo, he casually tossed it up onto the nearest wing-like appendage that he and Julie had assembled into the sides of the machine when they had first found it. He could see the horrified face of Ysandr as the machine began to shiver and vibrate violently, before it disappeared with an ear-splitting screech, leaving behind two of the lightweight pieces which had fallen from their notches on the vehicle’s cabin.
Lucky stood and brushed the dust from his jeans. Placing his hands on his hips, he chuckled to himself and said aloud,
“Yeah, Ysandr, but it looks like that ticket was one-way, ole bud. Say ‘hi’ to the Jurassic Age fer me, will ya. The dinosaurs will love ya; I bet they beg you to stay........FER DINNER!
It was in the season of long nights that they first came into the hidden canyon. The season when the northern sky would suddenly turn purple, and the wind would come to tear at their crude shelters of brush and animal skins. A wind that would oftimes carry away the old ones or the newborn in it’s frosted teeth. It was the blue wind, the taker of souls.
Far to the south lived the green wind, the giver of life. It would visit in the season of warming, bringing rain to the grasslands, and life to the streams. But they knew that this wind too, could be a danger, as the abundance of it’s blessing would cause the little arroyos to rise up and swallow the camps of the people.
In the east, lived the yellow wind. It blew the sun along it’s journey each day, and brought the spirit of Coyote, the Trickster, to make their lives interesting. And in the west, lived the dark wind, the bringer of twilight, the caller of men to a time of introspection.
They called themselves by a word which only meant “people”, but the little band knew many names. Names of animals and names of spirits. They knew stones could hear their voices, and spirits lived in water that could impregnate a bold or careless woman. And in these names they held their knowledge.
Stalking Bird, now an old man and almost toothless, was their leader. He had been revered as a wise man, a teacher all his life. His skin was slightly more reddish than others, a sign of the muddy red waters which had made his mother swell with child after she crossed a wild canyon river, and was almost lost. The spirit in the river had given Stalking Bird the ability of quiet; the ability to see the pathways of men, beneath the still surface of water.
And so it was, that Stalking Bird had fasted three days beside the pond near the village, before he called the little band together and revealed their upcoming journey. It was unusual to venture out in the time of the blue wind, but he had seen the necessity of it, and no one dared challenge his vision.
-- Lon Frank (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 22, 2001
Ysandr sat bolt-upright with a gasp, as if suddenly waking from a nightmare. A thin trickle of blood ran from his left nostril, and a bluish lump has risen on his otherwise featureless pate. Indeed, he first thought that he was still in a perverse dream. One that he had had many times in the past few years. One of a grinning Odelon, clutching the treasure they had assembled, while he himself, was consumed by smoke and noise. But then he remembered. The uncontrollable screeching of the machine, the shattering instruments, and the fading image of his old partner. He tasted the blood as it flowed into the corner of his mouth, and he knew this was no dream.
He struggled briefly to free himself from the disarray of the machine’s interior, and looked out upon a vast and barren landscape. As he kicked the door open, the west wind flew about him and again brought darkness into his mind. He would not wake again for two days, when he would then feel the stare of slightly Asian eyes, set into a reddish-brown and weathered face.
The smoke from the cooking fire rose up through the ragged roof of the lodge. Stalking Bird had told the people that with the dawn, they must move from this place, and now his songs beseeched the Great Spirit to send the green wind early to the plateau lands. To blow in their faces, and guide them as they fled south across unknown lands.
He feared for the safety of the band, but his vision was clear and demanding. The sickness had claimed all in the village except the seven remaining, and the last word from the adobe dwellers to the west was that it was even worse among their crumbling walls. The vastness of the unmarked plains stretched away to the eastern horizon, and the frozen peaks of the Father Mountains loomed in the north.
So, the vision had told Stalking Bird to lead the people away from their lodges, away from the streams they had named, away from the game trails they had known from their father’s fathers. It told him of strange creatures and dangerous crossings they would encounter. But Stalking Bird could never have imagined the creature that waited for him below the broken lands, nor the border of time, to which he would eventually bring the people.
-- Lon Frank (email@example.com), February 22, 2001.
Let's keep scurilious references to the recent NY Senate political race out of this here forum please, kind sir ...... kids might be reading you know.
-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 22, 2001.
Wow, another story :-) Yippeeeee!!!
-- Tricia the Canuck (email@example.com), February 24, 2001.
What Tricia said! J (Just got home from a journalism conference in DeeCee and have some catching up to do.)
-- Gayla (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 25, 2001.
Whew, boy. this is gonna be harder than I thought. When I can get back to it only after missing a few days, my train of thought is pretty well derailed. Thanks for the encouragement, though, I'll try to post the next installment later today (hopefully).
-- Lon Frank (email@example.com), February 25, 2001.
I hope so, too, Lon :-)
-- Tricia the Canuck (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 25, 2001.
A derailed train of thought ...... Hmmmn.
-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (email@example.com), February 27, 2001.
When the train derailed, how many circus animules escaped?
Is the colostitoomany okay? Is one colostoomany two too many?
Were the clowns okay? (Or are they still mixed up? Were they ever okay and now are no longer normal? Are they now normal and no longer okay?)
Where are the clowns?
-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 27, 2001.
Robert, here is a clown for you:
Now.... shhhhh.... Lon is concentratin'. :-)
-- Gayla (email@example.com), February 28, 2001.
That there clown sure got nice shoes... they would match my socks... and i've been lookin' fer a pair juz like that...
Now Lon, on with the story!
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 01, 2001.
Rob, are you sure those shoes would go with your socks?? Aren't your socks bright red? That clowns socks are green (at least on my poor sick monitor)
I think that that Lon fella just up and left us without feeding our insatiable story appetite! Hmmmph. You'd think he had a business to run or sumpin :-)
-- Tricia the Canuck (email@example.com), March 01, 2001.
Poor monitor ... it's feeling green.
The pants are greenish - sorta lime-like, the shoes are brownish red.
Thus, as long as the clown is wearing pants, the shoes will match the red socks.
As soon as the clown stops wearing the pants.....nobdy will notice what color the shoes are.
-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 02, 2001.
I'm not sure if his socks are green or not - looks like the pants go over them and down to the shoes so's we can't really see 'em. But the shoes sure are red - bright red - and they definately would match my socks!
Lettuce all be patient with Lon. He's probably dreamin' up something real special, and I think it'll help him if he knows we're all his patience :)
-- (email@example.com), March 02, 2001.
Rob, Trish, robert, Gayla, Helen, Kritter, anybody!!!!
I probably should never have started this now,- my appologies to everyone. I got called away before I could post again last week, and just got back last night. (Leave again on Monday) Maybe we'd better make this a real collusion story. Every body jump in, or it may never get told. Just continue the scenario, or start a parellel story, like me and Rob did last time.
I'm sorry I underestimated how busy I would be for the next couple of months, but I know the talent here, and I think we all can have fun with the story. I had no idea of a plot, anyway!
I have really mmissed the postings from the gang here lately. It's the first place I check when I turn on the net. We're on the road so much right now, that even Kit is getting tired of motels, and that IS rare. But next week we go to San Antonio and then the "Valley", so at least it will be warm.
-- Lon Frank (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 02, 2001.
So tonight and tomatoe we need to help Lon plot lettuce to grow lime- colored pants before he gets to the Valley on Monday.
-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (email@example.com), March 02, 2001.
Robert, your powers of deduction are... um... well... have you been working in your garden? ;-)
-- Gayla (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 02, 2001.
OK, OK! I guess I'll just have to do it myself. Slave drivers! -------------------------------------------------------------
Luca Sanchez was laying low. This was the third time he had crossed the Rio Grande, and he didn’t want to ride the big bus again. This time he had paid two hundred American dollars to the “coyote” to get him safely into the hills of New Mexico. But the green trucks of the Border Patrol seemed to be everywhere, and the ranchers could not be counted on for help, like they had been in his father’s day.
Nowadays, it seemed that everyone was out to catch them. They had pretty much quit calling them “wetbacks”, due to the recent upsurge in American political correctness, but still, sympathy for the illegal aliens had vanished like dew on an agave leaf. If he could make it to Santa Fe, he could blend in for a while, and maybe hook a ride to Dallas, where there were always jobs for lawn boys, chicken gutters, hot roofers, or anything else requiring a lot of sweat and little English.
Last trip, Luca had worked, along with 14 compadres, for a commercial landscape company. But the owners of the company only paid once a month, and somehow, just before payday at the very end of the summer, the Border Patrol had been tipped off, and all the workers got a free bus ride home, sans pay checks of course. It didn’t matter, really. At home, Luca was a chef in a little cafe that he and his wife owned in Progresso Nuevo, and he only worked the “season” to send money back, which would go for the kids’ educations.
But this time was different. This time Marta had been sick, and the cafe income had not been sufficient. So he had used the last of his “seed” money to hire passage with a professional to get to the hidden trail up through the Davis mountains, into the shacks outside Carlsbad. But in the true spirit of the game, the coyote was working both sides of the equation, and by surreptitiously turning in his charges, insured a future of increased need for his services.
Perhaps because he was a little older than the others, or perhaps because of the warm cerveza that put him to bed, Luca had been seeking relief outside in the nearby bushes about 2 am, when the green trucks turned up the road to the shack. He had immediately melted into the dark along a little wash, and now was traveling only by night, and living from one windmill to the next. It was hard going, but he was continually thankful for his habit of sleeping with his boots on while on the “trail”, and he had been twice lucky with his small rabbit snare.
He had covered four days’ worth of sage and cactus since slipping the trap in Carlsbad, but still felt exposed and as vulnerable as a prairie dog above ground in the daylight. So as the sun lifted above the eastern horizon, he crept around the crumbling and decrepit walls of a little mesa, searching for a piece of shade that would resist even the mid-day sun. He was suddenly startled to find a singular shaft of sunlight, framed by other rocks on a similar outcrop to the east, seemingly suspended above him on the flat cliff face.
The spear of light pointed to a otherwise unnoticeable shadow beneath the cliff, and as the sun rose higher, he saw that the shaft of light moved down the face to disappear into the darkness of it’s little target. Laying on his belly, flat as a horny toad, he was surprised to see muted sunlight now on the other side of the little shady passage. He wiggled through, and stood motionless. A tight whistle came from his dry lips, and he instinctively removed the rag from atop his head.
He was in a little natural courtyard, completely enclosed except for the crawl-way by which he had entered, and overhung by layers of harder sediments which made up the top of the mesa. Under the overhang, and covering the walls on all sides, staring back at him as if in the dawn of time, were pictographs of men with large red hats, and strange animals with red horns, lightning and whirlwinds, and something else.......round, red, flying machines.
The youngest of the children in the group was called Running Rabbit. At nine, she was an essential and productive member of the thrown-together family of Stalking Bird. She already knew how to find hidden water in the vast dryness, and could carefully and correctly prepare the large desert lizards which she dispatched with a deadly aim, and a basalt rock.
In fact, it was to hunt the lizards in the still chill of the dawn, that she was out on this particular early morning. She wore woven sandals that her people had learned to make from fibrous yucca plants growing among the mesas, and a one-piece girdle of softened deer skin around her waist, more for decoration than for modesty, since she had yet to come of sexual age.
She had seen two lizards the afternoon before, lazing on the rocks below, and now had stationed herself to be in position for their dawn excursion into the sun, once again to warm their cold-blooded life mechanisms. But as the sun rose into her face, she felt that peculiar prickle on the back of her neck, as if she was being watched by a momma bobcat. With the calm slowness of a wild creature, she turned her head to scan the cliff behind her, and was amazed to see an arrow of sunlight being shot down into a little hole at its base.
It was late in the afternoon when she led the little band to their new home.
-- Lon Frank (email@example.com), March 02, 2001.
Ysandr thought for the briefest of moments that he had awakened from an impromptu nap at his desk at the Agency. But the sunlight was so bright, and his head hurt, and most of all the naked little red man could not be made to fit into the imagined scenario in any way. So, he rubbed his forehead lightly, where his eyebrows would have been, shook the cobwebs out of his mind, and remembered what had happened to the time machine. His lips were split and dry and his voice was raspy with thirst as he met the eyes of Stalking Bird.
“Howdy, there, Tonto. You, uh, you wouldn’t by any chance have an extra happy meal on you?”
At the sound of his flat and strangely unmelodious voice, Stalking Bird hastily took two steps back. But Running Rabbit, fascinated by the green eyes and pale skin, shyly held out a tiny pottery bowl filled with slightly cloudy water. Around the sides of the little vessel flew geometric patterns of red desert birds.
“It only makes gibberish. It knows not the language of people”, Stalking Bird said, “and it’s skin is like that of dead fish.”
Running Rabbit had not taken her eyes off his. “But Grandfather, it has eyes the color of the south wind, the bringer of life.”
Stalking Bird came close enough to suddenly poke Ysandr in the side with the throwing stick he carried. He wrinkled his nose. “It smells strange, like a dead bird among the blue flowers. Still, the Great Spirit has put it in our path; we’ll give it food, and perhaps teach it to speak as people”
With that, the entire band turned away and began to walk towards their camp; only Running Rabbit looked back, and motioned for Ysandr to follow. As he struggled to rise upon wobbly legs, he reached into the machine and retrieved a small pouch.
“Might need this, ......... here in Eden.”
-- Lon Frank (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 02, 2001.
Ok. I'm hooked. The Sir Lon of the great SouthWest has a good one started here.
Slave on. (Reaches for a Cuervesa & wine glass. Leans back and waits for the next installment.)
-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (email@example.com), March 03, 2001.
Julie got the call from Helen Bee Mebs, the new Head of the Advanced Defense and Research Organization (ADRO, after only a few weeks vacation and rest from her previous 'adventure'. Now she was about to go on her first assignment for 'The Agency'. She and Pat took the short flight from New Jersey to D.C. to meet with Helen and find out what the assignment was all about.
The airlines had special accommodations for Pat - her golden retriever puppy with very special and unusual 'abilities'. The flight was uneventful for both of them - and late. After arriving at the airport, she drove a rental car to the destination that Helen had told her to go to. She parked, then got into another car, following Pat - a Ford that was being driven by a military chauffeur. They were going to the Pentagon. Julie felt a rush of excitement and anticipation. This was the Big Time. It felt good to be on the 'inside' - to be privy to some of the deepest dark secrets that others could only dream of.
The car approached the Pentagon's Mall entrance and stopped at the red brick guardhouse where a soldier sporting a conspicuous side-arm examined the car's plates and occupants. The soldier carefully and slowly checked the information against a hand-held computer, returned to the guardhouse, and raised the gate to let the car through. The chauffeur drove a short distance, went up a ramp, and let her and Pat out at the building's front steps.
Once the car was out of sight, the guard punched in a short text message along with a 7-digit code. Seconds later, Helen Bee Mebs started on her way to go meet her two newest staff members.
Once past the metal detectors, Julie and Pat were greeted by Helen, who took them to an elevator that went down only one floor; to the offices underneath the E-Ring - and to a surveillance-proof area known as the 'basement'. As the elevator doors opened, Julie could see that two soldiers were stationed just outside the doors in this 'basement'. They exited the elevator quickly, and on a soft-spoken command from Helen, one of the soldiers buzzed open a large glass door. They stepped through it into a very narrow and long hallway. In the distance at the end of the hallway were two more soldiers - standing guard at either side of an open doorway. That was their destination. It was the most highly secure meeting place in the entire Pentagon, and it had a name: The Vault.
Helen sat down in a high-backed leather chair. Julie did the same. Pat stretched out on the carpeting at Julie's feet as Helen looked at her, smiled, and said; "We need you and Pat to help us with something very important Julie - your first assignment. We need you and Pat to try and find my predecessor - the former Head of ADRO: Alexander Lawless.
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 03, 2001.
I don't think I'd be very useful in writing stories in your settings... what I know about the southern and eastern states would fit handily on a postage stamp. So, you'll have to keep writing without my help!
-- Tricia the Canuck (email@example.com), March 04, 2001.
Well, that's all right Trish. Rob's agreed to carry the ball for a while. I leave in morning for about a week, so ya'll be sure to tell him how good he's doing, and I'll see you all when I get back.
-- Lon Frank (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 04, 2001.
Lon, you and Kit have a safe trip. Your last postcard was lovely. Bring us back some more, OK? J
-- Gayla (email@example.com), March 04, 2001.
Julie couldn't hide the surprise on her face at hearing what her first assignment was to be. Ever since Helen had told her she had a job for her, Julie had speculated about what it might be. Actually, now that she thought of it, this assignment really shouldn't have been such a surprise. After all, her only previous involvement with government work was when she and Pat had been asked to help the FBI - on a missing person case.
Julie looked directly at her boss, shifted somewhat uneasily in her comfortable chair, and admitted; "Ok, but I really don't have any ideas on how to go about finding him. Did you want Pat and I in on this thinking that I might have some concrete ideas on where Alexander is?"
"No," Helen replied, "But I have some ideas - actually, one idea in particular. And you and Pat are about the only ones that might possibly be able to do it. First though, I'll need to give you a little background."
Helen then got up, walked over to the other side of the room, and pressed something on the wall that caused it to 'roll up', revealing a very large dull TV-like screen. "What you are about to see is a filmed demonstration from an extraordinary project - one that I think will explain to you how it is that both you and Pat can help find Alexander. It really is quite remarkable, and, naturally, quite secret."
Pat's head perked up and the pup's eyes followed Helen as she walked back to her chair and sat down, then turned to look at the screen as she pressed a small remote device in her hand. Instantly, the wall-screen came alive with a group of mostly military officers all seated around an oval table. It only took a second or two for Julie to realize that what she was watching had taken place right here in this very room.
Helen and Julie sat in silence and watched the short film. When it was over, Helen pressed the remote, walked over to the wall-screen, and closed it back up. She then turned to Julie and asked with amused expectation; "Well, what do you think, Julie?"
At first Julie wasn't able to reply, but quickly regained enough composure to at least say the first thing on her mind. . .
"Oh my God!"
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 04, 2001.
We awoke this morning to a world of white - everything covered in a beautiful, undisturbed white snow. A thin layer of ice has covered the thin upper branches of the oaks, making them reflect the early morning light like crystalline glass figures. The kids are happy - all the schools are closed. We have no work today - the businesses are closed. The governor has declared a state of emergency. The National Guard and utilities are now on alert. There are voluntary evacuations along the shore, with gale force winds expected to devastate the beaches and cause severe flooding in the lowest lying areas. Some wonder if the dunes will still be there after this Nor'Easter, or if their Seawall will be able to contain the unbridled wrath of the raging sea.
The first storm has come and gone, leaving death and destruction in it's wake. But the big story is not what has passed, but what is on its way - to our area. Later today it will come - the second of the one-two punch that is already being called a Blizzard. It's coming right at us. We could easily loose electricity as the wet heavy snow and ice become more and more burdensome for the trees to hold, as they sway violently in the buffeting winds and gale.
Right at the moment I'm kinda busy, but later I'll sit down and continue with the story and will post the next part either late tonight or tomorrow - assuming we still have juice. Rob
-- (email@example.com), March 05, 2001.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you, Rob. It's a good time to have preps, isn't it? J Take care, my friend, and let us know how you're doing.
-- Gayla (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 05, 2001.
Thanks Gayla. So far, so good. The central and southern parts of the state have mostly received rain, though they expect coastal flooding later with high tide. Here in Northwestern N.J. it's a different story since it's always colder. The Blizzard was supposed to be here by now but it is still 'forming' according to the reports. Some folks are laughing the whole thing off saying we aren't gonna get blasted after all. I'm taking a wait and see attitude and staying tuned. It's good to be prepped :-) I plan to post the next part of the story later tonight.
-- (email@example.com), March 05, 2001.
Helen Bee Mebs smiled. "Yeah, 'Oh my God' is about right, Julie." The name of this project is called ScanInt. The name of the technique you saw is called 'remote viewing'. It started over two decades ago when it was discovered that certain individuals, given the right information, were unexplainably able to 'scan' or view what was actually going on at a particular place as if they were physically there seeing it with their own eyes. The Russians also have their own version of the same project. We employ these people, called viewers, for intelligence gathering. The success ratio of 'hits' averages almost 49% for some of the better viewers. What you have just seen is an example of a viewer being shown a picture of a Russian nuclear submarine, the viewer concentrating on the photo in a trance-like state, and then describing where the ship is hidden currently at sea - the exact latitude and longitude. You can imagine the national security implications of this project."
Julie sat quietly and listened intently as Helen continued. "But things got even more interesting when some of these viewers started seeing unexpected things. I remember one example in particular. A viewer was asked to locate a specific sub, and did so, but then his trance broke suddenly, and he was obviously very embarrassed about something. He stated that he had seen something besides the sub which was on the surface in international waters off the Maine coast. When questioned, he told us that he had seen a round object hovering in the air directly above the submarine. At that point we asked him if he could draw what he had seen, and he did. We all looked at it in turn, the same expression on our faces as we each realized that what he drew was an unidentified flying object. This caused quite a sensation at the time, and a no-nonsense account of it was included in then President Reagan's daily morning ten-page brief. Reportedly, he looked up after reading it and said he had 'seen one of those things once when flying in California' and that we 'should follow up on it'. Needless to say, we have followed up on it, and the project has continued and grown considerably." Helen paused now to gauge Julie's reaction.
Julie cleared her throat before asking; "Then why can't you just use these viewers to find Alexander?"
Helen sighed before saying: "We have tried, Julie. But none have had any luck. That's where you and Pat come in. What you each have already demonstrated as a 'team' is the ability to perform remote viewing - you just never knew that there was a formal name for it, or that others were able to do this - though none use an animal as you do." At the reference to 'animal' Pat wagged it's tail and barked softly.
Julie frowned slightly. "I guess I'm just dense Helen, but I still don't see how it is that Pat and I can help. If other 'viewers' have been unsuccessful, what makes you think we would do any better?"
Helen looked at Julie and said; "None of the viewers are able to 'see' into the past or the future. But for some reason, Pat is able to. We know that Alexander disappeared into the Alien time machine - the very same machine that you went into, and also Pat. Perhaps in some way your chemistry was altered - I don't know - I don't even know if our try will work or not. But I know that you and Pat are our only chance."
Julie shook her head in affirmation. "I think I understand now. Thanks Helen. What comes next?"
Helen smiled, then replied; "Before we start, I need to make sure you understand what it is specifically that we are trying to find out. First, is Alexander alive? Second, if he is, then we'll try to determine both where he is and, considering he disappeared into a time-machine, when he is.
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 05, 2001.
If power is lost to a time machine, while other people are traveling via the time machine....does time stand still for the travelers? Or do they continue, but come back after a delay equal to the "time off" the power was off?
Or do they stop (at the other time at the time that power was lost at the first time), until power comes back on at the time they left behind?
-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (email@example.com), March 06, 2001.
Robert, the answer to your questions is yes. Or no :-)
Rob, good work! I hope the storm didn't hit you hard... I'd sure hate to have to wait for storm clean up to get the next installment ;-) (Self-centered? What's that :-)
-- Tricia the Canuck (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 06, 2001.
It was time to begin. Helen dialed an extension on the speaker-phone. Shortly later, an officer carrying a briefcase came into the vault and, without a word, placed the briefcase on the conference table and left. Helen entered the code to open the briefcase and took out its contents: a large yellow envelope with something in it and an expensive looking wrist watch that had belonged to Alexander Lawless.
Pat stood up as Helen held out the watch for the pooch to sniff. Julie turned to Pat and asked; "Ok, pup, do you understand what we are trying to do?" Pat barked once. Helen looked at Julie with obvious surprise and asked; "The dog is able to actually answer questions? I thought it just gave you images or visions!" Julie laughed and said; "Pat barks once for yes and twice for no. And yes, Pat is able to understand my thoughts quite clearly." Helen gazed down at the pooch with obvious admiration and delight. Perhaps this was going to work after all.
The Head of ADRO watched Julie carefully as Pat dutifully sniffed at Alexander's watch, then sat down on all fours. Julie felt a tingling sensation and knew that Pat was about to send her a telepathic vision. She closed her eyes and at once 'saw' a group of letters that she didn't understand. Julie then got a piece of paper and wrote down the group of letters that Pat had shown her.
Helen picked up the paper and stared at what Julie had written. "Yzandr?" Helen shook her head. "What the heck does 'Yzandr' mean?" She looked in turn at Pat and then Julie. Julie shrugged. Pat stood back up and wagged it's tail.
Once again Julie felt a tingling at her temples and she saw, clearly, the watch that Helen had just let Pat sniff. "Helen, Pat is showing me the watch. Can I see it please?" Helen gave it to her. Julie started carefully examining the watch and in only a few seconds let out a gasp. "Why, there are some tiny marks on here Helen." Helen stood up and said; "Let me see!" Julie pointed out the spot where the tiny marks - no more than scratches - were. Helen went to her pocketbook and drew out a small magnifying glass. She looked at the marks. Now it was her turn to gasp. What she saw weren't just scratches- - -
they were letters- - -
and the letters spelled 'Yzandr'.
-- (email@example.com), March 07, 2001.
Yippeeee! More story :-)
I hope this means you didn't get stormed too hard, Rob.
Has anyone heard from Kritter? Is she okay?
-- Tricia the Canuck (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 07, 2001.
Rob, have you been to the Pentagon? It sure sounds like it! :- ) So, Alexander has a different identity? Is he really a Russian spy? (We've had a few of those uncovered lately.) I'm leaving tomorrow for Colorado. Maybe I should go through New Mexico and see what I can find? ;-) Unfortunately, I have no dog... or beaver either for that matter. Would a teenager work? ;-) Happy spring break to all of you. Can't wait to see where this story goes.
-- Gayla (email@example.com), March 08, 2001.
Tricia: I've been wondering where Kritter is too! And also Helen, and Aunt Bee, and Mebs :-( as well as others. Guess we'll just have to wait and see. The blizzard just missed us. It pounded everyone to the north instead of us.
Gayla: Glad it sounds realistic, but no, I've never been there. Just a word of friendly advice,if your teenager starts barking once for yes and twice for no, head off to New Mexico immediately :-)
Next 'chapter' will be either late tonight or tomorrow.
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 08, 2001.
Julie turned to Pat and asked; "What is Yzandr?" The pooch wagged it's tail and looked at her with anticipation. Julie felt her temples tingle yet again. She 'saw' a person this time - a middle-aged man wearing a coat patched with duct-tape and smoking a pipe. As she told Helen about this latest vision, the Head of ADRO picked up the yellow envelope and pulled out a large glossy photo from it. Helen's hands shook slightly. Julie looked at the photo. It showed the same middle-aged man wearing a coat patched with duct-tape and smoking a pipe! Julie looked up from the photo as Helen said; "Evidently, Yzandr is not a 'what, it's a 'who' - a 'who' also known as Alexander Lawless! Pat wagged it's tail excitedly and gave out one very loud Woof!
Helen Bee Mebs couldn't hide her excitement at this discovery, or at the prospects of what was to come next. "Ok," she said, "now for the big test - lets try the remote viewing. We always use photos of whatever it is we are trying to scan - for some reason it works best."
Julie took the photo of Alexander and showed it to Pat, who took a long and careful look at it, growled softly, and then sat down. Helen looked expectantly at Julie, as the young girl closed her eyes and waited. She didn't have to wait long.
The vision came. Julie began talking - describing to Helen what Pat was showing her as a result of seeing the photo. "I see what looks like someplace in the southwest; sage, cactus, tumbleweeds, rocky cliffs and formations. Wait a minute - over there; that rock formation looks like it has a shadowy crack or opening in it--- yes, I'm going there, through the opening--- why, it's like some kind of cave--- and I can see something on the walls--- Drawings! Ancient-looking carvings, I mean. Carvings of men with big reddish hats, and animals with reddish horns, and I see what looks like lightening, and, oh my God, little round reddish shapes flying in the air"---
At this, Helen became convinced that Alexander was alive after all. If he were dead, there would have been no visions - no clues. They sat for a while, speculating on what they had learned: Alexander was also Yzandr, and he was connected somehow with the pictograph found in the 'cave'. If only they knew where the cavern was - if in fact it still existed. Helen also felt some confidence that Alexander had time-traveled into the past, had become Yzandr, and was somewhere in the southwestern part of the country.
This represented substantial progress. They at least had some leads now. Helen asked Julie to draw the carvings she had seen inside the cave. She then faxed this to her field agent's Regional Headquarters in San Antonio, with instructions to pass it along and find out anything they were able to that might identify where this 'cave' was. She also made it quite clear that all other priorities were rescinded.
The first part of the mission was a success, thanks to Julie and Pat. But Helen Bee Mebs couldn't proceed with the next part, the dangerous part, the part that would put Julie and Pat's very lives in jeopardy. No, she couldn't even tell Julie about it - not yet---
not until it was time---
not until 'if and when' she found what she was looking for.
-- (email@example.com), March 09, 2001.
Hmmmn. Verrrrrrrry interesting developments.
-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 09, 2001.
Ysandr had desert sand in his crotch. He had sand in his ears, his armpits, between his toes, and in the creases of his neck. He was wiggling on his stomach, through the little opening under the cliff, where the small band of desert scavengers had disappeared ahead of him. He shook his head violently as a fly landed in the moist corner of his right eye, and for the effort, gathered a mouthful of more sand.
“If I ever get my hands on that clown again.........”
He looked up slightly and saw Running Rabbit, crouched down at the other end of the passage and motioning for him to come on.
“Yeah, yeah, Pocohontas, I’m coming. Sheesh, what are we, late for the opera, or something?”
When he finally emerged into the light again, he stood up spitting and brushing sand from his belly. After a moment he became aware of the others in the group. They were absolutely still, and staring at him with expectation. Only the girl moved, as she pointed to the rock wall above him. Ysandr looked up and turned around slowly in a circle as he moved towards the center of the enclosure.
There, painted on, or lightly chipped into the rock faces were the legacy of a long-past people; small hunting-men figures, creeping across the cliffs after four-legged animals who leapt in flight at their eternal approach. There were camp scenes of lodges and fires, and medicine men. And finally, set apart like Holy icons in a side recess, the figures of tall men with strange head gear, holding wands and lightning, and pointing upwards toward heavens busy with swirls and flashes and hovering discs. Ysandr studied the figures and symbols, recognition gathering in his mind.
“So, I’m not the first.”
State Trooper Travis Burtram was not feeling particularly pleased with the way things were turning out. After all, he had only joined the Texas Highway Patrol so he could get a shot at becoming a Texas Ranger after a few years of paying his dues as a “road roach”. But it had been four years now, and his life had settled into a daily rut of misdemeanor mediocracy. Regardless of the glamorous television shows, where highway cops spent their days stopping drug shipments, and collaring desperate felons after prolonged high-speed chases, the real grind was little more than traffic tickets and accident reports.
He shared the offices of the local Sheriff’s department, and even though he earned more money than the Deputies, he knew their jokes about how little “real” police work he did were only partly in jest. Some days lately, even he realized that the Highway Patrol had become little more that a tax on the traveling public. The bulk of his crime fighting effort was simply writing speeding tickets to old ladies and salesmen who left their cruise controls set at 70 when they crossed into the city limits (and 55 mph limit) of Lamesa. Travis knew that the folks he ticketed weren’t criminals. They were just ranchers or truckers or families on vacation. And consequently, he realized that he didn’t make a whole lot of difference in the overall world of criminal justice.
He had even been thinking of quitting the Department. His wife made the daily 50 mile drive into Big Spring to teach her 6th grade class, and Travis knew the manager of the Wal-Mart store there, who had once offered him an assistant position. He was still thinking about the endless aisles of toilet paper and cheap tires when he pulled up behind the darkened pick-up truck which was stopped by the bridge over Monument Draw, just south of the forgotten ranch town of Seminole.
“Unit 2 to Central. I’m 10-50 at the old bridge on 385 south, and it looks like I got an abandoned vehicle, license number, Texas TR2 dash G14.”
He took his black four cell Maglight out of it’s holder and started walking toward the old Ford truck. It was covered with dust and was empty but for a few old tools and a tow chain in the bed. Trooper Burtram had started back to his patrol car when his eyes caught a slight movement in the dark of the ravine. Shining his flashlight on the area, he was confronted with a young white male, wearing dirty jeans, an old Metallica T-shirt, and a grimy baseball hat featuring a cartoon image of two pigs “makin’ bacon”. He was also holding a small bale of loosely packed dried leaves in each hand.
Travis immediately braced the Maglight on his left shoulder and reached down to rest his right hand on the butt of his revolver.
“Whoa, boy. Now what the Hell do we have he.......”
The bullet hit him from below on his left, just caught the edge of his kevlar vest, and knocked absolutely all the air out of his lungs. His flashlight and his jaw both shattered on the rocks as Travis fell unconscious the thirty feet into the dry ravine. The two unwashed young men hastily threw their illegal cargo into the truck and speed away without once looking to see where the Trooper’s body had landed.
But other eyes had witnessed the entire little drama in the desert night. He had been hidden by the bridge, and was just about to come up and ask for a ride from the two boys in the old truck when the Highway Patrol car had pulled up with it’s blue and red lights. Slinking back into the rocks, he had seen the Trooper, and watched as his light found the man holding the weed bales. He knew something was bound to happen then, and started to drift farther into the night, when the sound of the gunshot startled him like a clap of dry thunder. He watched the truck speed off, and then heard the soft moans coming from the floor of the draw, and he knew that if he helped the stricken Trooper, he would give up his own freedom.
The pain in his jaw began to bring Travis back to consciousness. As he opened his eyes he looked into a round, brown Mexican face, and instinctively reached for his missing service revolver. Luca Sanchez placed his hand gently on the Trooper’s right arm.
“Ees so-kay senor. Me amigo”.
-- Lon Frank (email@example.com), March 11, 2001.
“You see, the trick was in the discovery that time was not linear, like everyone had always assumed. You know, one moment following another, day after day, year after year, lifetime after lifetime. Only when we realized that time was flat, like an endless horizon, that we could really make advances in travel theory. In fact, actually there is no tomorrow, or next year or yesterday. Every thing that has happened or is about to happen, is happening now, you see. You only have to move sideways along on the horizontal line to the moment you wish to inhabit. Yes, indeed, that’s the trick.”
Running Rabbit reached out a small hand and touched the rock chips which had fallen at the base of the cliff. Ysandr had lectured on like this for the last three hours and the rest of the group had wandered off long ago. They found the sound of his flat and monotonous voice boring, if not downright disturbing. Only the little girl had stayed to watch him chip away at the rock face, but now even she wondered at the strange mind of the creature they had found in the desert.
As he talked, mostly to hear a familiar voice, Ysandr used a small hand axe of smooth granite to peck at the rock under the large mysterious pictographs of strangers. He had chosen a red triptych of tall men wearing antennae equipped headgear, and each holding a different geometrical symbol or instrument. Along the base of this ancient and awesomely powerful image, Ysandr labored to chip a horizontal line of dashes and squares.
In about two months, when he had finished, he would have a design stretching over 50 feet, and accentuated with little V-shaped marks over the seemingly random dashes and squares. Just left of the center point of this line, he would carefully carve a + symbol in the center of one of the little squares, and a horizontal 8, lying just below it.
The little band of desert people had watched his work with interest at first, as they considered Ysandr to be a spirit of the Green Wind, and thought that he would eventually share some secret of life. But as he continued, chipping and talking in his obnoxious manner, they were dismayed to see neither secrets, nor even patterns in his art.
As the summer had worn away, Stalking Bird watched as the pale man worked, and worried as he ate much more than his share of the food supplies of the group. Only Running Rabbit still found him interesting, and the others were starting to grumble about his lack of both hygiene and manners. He always reached to eat first, and asked neither permission nor blessing of the older men. He didn’t wash in the little pool half a mile down the ravine, and his breath was foul. But worst of all, and a source of constant complaint from the women, he never went far to relieve himself, and the camp was beginning to smell like the lairs of the large desert cats.
Stalking Bird knew it would be soon, that they would have to leave their sanctuary and their unwelcome guest, and start out again towards the home of more friendly spirits to the east. He had consulted the other men of the band, and had come to the conclusion that they would kill the pale man, and attempt to discover any magic which he might possess. He knew that the long-day was coming, and that he would have to fast and ask the Great Spirit for guidance. It was on this night, the shortest of the year, that he planned to bring the band together under the canopy of watchful stars, and to sacrifice the unsuspecting Ysandr.
He could never have dreamed what would really happen that year on the night of the summer solstice.
-- Lon Frank (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 11, 2001.
Wow! Another nailbiting cliffhanger collaboration by two of my favorite authors is keeping my elbows at risk ;-)
Good work, guys!
-- Tricia the Canuck (email@example.com), March 11, 2001.
Helen Bee Mebs checked all of her e-mail and voice messages - no word yet from any of her field agents. Perhaps the enclosed mesa with the carvings no longer existed. That would be bad, since it was their only lead to Alexander. She let out a long gentle sigh as she reluctantly accepted the fact that even if it was still there, she needed one hell of a lucky break to find it.
Helen sat alone thinking about the whole mission. Certainly, Julie and Pat were turning out be the important assets she had foreseen. They had left now to go back to New Jersey and await further instructions. Helen thought about what those instructions might entail. She didn't like having to put Julie or Pat in any danger. But there was no getting around the fact that she needed to accomplish her mission: to bring back the former Head of the Agency, Alexander Lawless, either dead or alive. When a person knew as many 'secrets' as Alexander did, they weren't 'allowed' to simply just disappear.
Now that Helen had some confidence Alexander was alive, it was up to her to figure out how to accomplish the more difficult part of the mission: finding him and bringing him back. Her intent, assuming the mysterious mesa could be found, was to send Julie and Pat to the area where the pictographs were and hope that they would pick up Alexander's trail. She realized it was a long shot, but right now, it was all she had.
She smiled to herself at the thought that at least she had something to go on now, thanks to Julie and Pat, but wondered how much any of them would be able to actually follow up on it. She decided to check her mail yet again. Nothing.
If only her agents could find that damn mesa with the carvings- - -
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 11, 2001.
-- (jayles@goodjob.Rob:-)), March 11, 2001.
Helen Bee Mebs just stood there looking down at the fax in total amazement. It had just come from one of her senior agents via the San Antonio Headquarters. She stared at it almost in disbelief. It was an obviously hand-drawn picture of what looked to be ancient carvings, very similar to the one Julie had created and that she had faxed down to her agents. As she continued looking, she realized that the two drawings were more than just similar - they showed the same exact objects and details!
Excitedly, she picked up and read the field agent's accompanying terse brief. One Luca Sanchez, an illegal from Mexico, had drawn it only two days ago. He was being held in protective custody in relation to witnessing the attempted homicide of a local policeman by alleged narcotic smugglers. In other words, she thought to herself, he wasn't going anywhere anytime soon, and, more importantly, he knew where the mesa with the strange carvings was.
Helen couldn't believe her luck. Not only did the mesa still exist but there was someone who could show them exactly where it was! She thought for several minutes about what she could do now, and then picked up the phone to start making the arrangements.
Julie answered on the second ring, and listened carefully as Helen explained to her what was needed. An hour later, Julie and Pat were on their way to the airport - destination Washington D.C., only this time they weren't going to the Pentagon. Instead, they were to be taken to a small and secret government airstrip outside of Alexandria, where they would then take a 'special private flight' to Reese Air Force base, just outside of Lubbock, Texas.
It was time for the second part of the mission to begin.
The dangerous part. . .
-- (email@example.com), March 12, 2001.
Helen sat back in her chair, deep in thought. Even if Julie and Pat found the clues that could lead them to Alexander, they needed a way to go back in time to get him and bring him back. As far as she knew, there weren't any more Alien time machines either. But she did have an idea. . .
Helen inherited more than just Alexander's job. She also inherited all of his files - including his private files. She picked up the one marked "Eyes Only: Project Rainbow" and read it yet again. It was an astounding account of something that happened way back in the second World War; 1943, to be precise. Some of the people who worked here would know that 1943 was the same year that the Pentagon had been built. Most Americans would probably think of the War when you mentioned that year.
But Helen associated 1943 with something else. She put down the file folder and sighed. Project Rainbow was an experiment based on Einstein's unified field theory as well as quantum teleportation. It was an attempt to make something invisible and move it someplace else via the generation of extremely powerful electro-magnetic fields. The project ended in disaster, due to unforeseen complications resulting in the loss of life, and was canceled. But although the project itself was canned, the work went on over the years - secretly.
According to Alexander's file, there was a machine invented called the "Teleporter" - originally based on Project Rainbow's early experimentation. It was recently built and successfully tested by ADRO scientists. The notes in Alexander's private file went into great detail about it all. The only problem was that the few who knew how to make it work were all killed in a lab explosion, except for one scientist with the cover name "Lucky."
Alexander had learned the final secrets to making it work, possibly from Lucky, but then they both disappeared. Final tests were never performed as a result. Also, the incomplete instruction set manual was not written in English or any other recognizable human language. Gazing at it, Helen thought it most resembled some form of picture-writing - not too dissimilar from Egyptian hieroglyphics.
Under Helen's leadership, the covert ADRO project continued despite Alexander's absence, and now almost all of the missing pieces of critical information were being worked out. Still, only Alexander knew the final sequence of 'picture instructions' that would make the Teleporter work. The new ADRO scientists were making progress, but it might still be a while before they uncovered the one missing instruction set.
But they had made enough progress to do some preliminary testing. Several tests were conducted, all with inanimate objects. Evidently, the Teleporter could move something from one place to another and from one time period to another. It was just what Helen would need for going into the past to find Alexander and bring him back. All of these tests were successful so far. But there was still one more test that needed to be performed successfully before they could try using the machine with a human being, and they desperately needed the final instruction sequence to do it.
If only the scientists could come up with the final code set soon, Helen thought. Then she could try the important test - not with an inanimate object. . .
but with a live animal. . .
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 13, 2001.
Oh, no! Not Pat!!! HelenBeeMebs is nicer than that ... isn't she?!? ;-)
-- Tricia the Canuck (email@example.com), March 15, 2001.
Luca Sanchez's English wasn't very good, but his directions to the mesa were excellent. Julie and Pat were driven to the area by the local chief of Police, who was thrilled to have a beautiful young woman with him who he had to give his 'full cooperation' to. The officer waited in the patrol car, as requested, and Julie and Pat got out and started looking around.
Almost at once, Pat started scampering off to the east of the road and Julie followed. They both stopped on the top of a small rise and saw what they had come for: the mesa where, reportedly, the ancient carvings were. With excitement and tail wagging, Pat bounded down the rise and towards the shadowy opening in the mesa, with Julie once again following behind. In only a moment they were entering the small opening in the rocky formation, and were inside.
Julie looked around. It wasn't as dark as she thought it would be. The small outside opening gave way to a large enclosed area surrounded by rock, except for where sunlight streamed in from a substantial hole above her where the blue winter sky looked indifferently down. It reminded her of a courtyard.
She took out the special equipment that Helen had given her: a small hand-held combination cell-phone and digital video camera, an attachable flex-antenna that, luckily, she would be able to point right through the hole in the mesa's 'roof' to maximize transmission signal strength, and a satellite up-link cable that ported between the phone/camera and the flex-antenna. Once this was all set up, she decided it was time to look around for any possible clues of Alexander, also known as Ysandr.
Pat caught her attention by barking softly and looking up at her with a hopeful expression usually reserved for when the pup wanted to eat. The pooch then started gazing intently at the wall. Julie walked over and immediately saw why. It was the area of carvings that Pat had previously shown her in the vision while she and Helen were in the Pentagon's vault. There could be no doubt now, they definitely were in the right place. But why did Pat show her this place to begin with? What did it have to do with the missing Alexander?
As if reading her thoughts, Pat turned from the wall and went towards the opposite side of the enclosed mesa to the rock wall on the northern side. Julie watched as the pooch stopped and once again turned to look at her - tail wagging. She walked quickly over with anticipation. There in front of them were a series of delicate-looking markings that seemed to stretch almost all the way around to the back of the mesa. Julie stepped forward for a closer look. How weird, she thought. They were not just random markings; there were dashes and dots and squares, and other picture-like scratches that were made deliberately and painstakingly.
Julie powered up the equipment, dialed the secure number, and turned the antenna to point skyward.. She had no idea what any of this meant. Maybe Helen would.
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 15, 2001.
The heat shimmered off the smooth rocks by the little ravine. Stalking bird stopped to rest briefly in the shade provided by a boulder the size and shape of one of the people’s lodges when they ventured out upon the vast grasslands to the west. It had taken him all morning to fill his little pouch with the white chalky stones that he needed. Running Rabbit had helped for a while, but had gotten sidetracked by the calls of a covey of desert bobwhites, and had gone off to see if she could catch a couple for their supper.
It was three days after the summer solstice, or “long day”, as they knew it. He and the little girl were all that were left of the band, the others fleeing silently in the night, in fear of what they had seen, and the terror of the individual parts they had played. Stalking Bird had fasted three days, and gone alone to sit on the eastern rim of the mesa. During this vision-quest he had sought answers for the most troubling intuitions of his life. He had come to feel that the tall pale man with the eyes of summer wind was an evil spirit, put in his way to test him in this, the last earthly year of his life.
Yes, he knew the signs well enough, and he had already lived beyond the years of most of the people. It was time for him to prepare, and to teach a young one his accumulated wisdom. So, months later, on an early spring afternoon, as he fulfilled his own prophecy, Running Rabbit would wrap him tightly and place his body upon the feathered platform before walking off alone to become a legendary figure among the scattered peoples of the Father Mountains. But that is another story, and Stalking Bird had one last major project to attend to.
The next morning, as the sun found it’s way into the enclosed mesa, he led Running Rabbit to a large space on the wall, as yet unadorned by paintings or carving. He explained that here, they would draw a monumental tableau commemorating the events of the long day; here would be the figures of their little band, and here would be the swirling flashes of lightning, and here would be the great pale figure with green eyes, flying upwards to disappear into the mouth of the Blue Raven, claimer of souls. It would be the first white figure of a man ever depicted by the people, and it would take them until well into the autumn to finish it.
In the waning years of her own life, Running Rabbit would return alone to the hidden mesa and look again on their handiwork, and she would moisten her own hands with the while chalk-paint, and place them near the bottom of the flying man. The next woman to enter the mesa would marvel at the delicate hand prints, and Julie would find that they were a perfect match for her own.
-- Lon Frank (email@example.com), March 15, 2001.
The spring rains had come early, and the meadow along the bayou was more water than soil. It was just perfect for the snowy egrets, as they strolled along on their stilts, just occasionally poking long beaks into the bog for waterlogged bugs.
The old man stood hunched over the tiny two burner stove as he heated a pan of left-over rice and beans and listened to the incessant rain drumming on the roof of the forlorn little trailer. He shoved aside a grimy curtain and peered out through the cracked window pane at the growing mounds of crawfish scattered over the wettest areas.
“Hot dam, we sure gonna have us a beaucoup of mud-bugs this year, I betcha.”
“YEE-OW! Hey, Billy Joe, come look at this here.”
The young man was standing just inside the door of the Rusty Star Gas and Grill. He wore faded jeans, ragged at the cuffs, where the edges hung under the heals of his scuffed and stained Justin ropers, and his left rear pocket was permanently shaped and faded in a three-inch circle from the can of Copenhagen it contained. His long sleeved and snap-buttoned shirt was tucked in, and held securely by a wide lattigo belt with a trophy buckle roughly the size of a trash can lid.
Billy Joe Murphy was identically dressed, with the addition of a rakish pair of aviator sunglasses. He sauntered over to his friend, whistled low, and placed his hand over his heart, faining sudden severe pain.
“Now, I ask you boy. Why don’t we have women like that in Lamesa?”
“Hell, I don’t know, but if you want to start a breeding program for ‘em, that’un would make a nice brood mare, and I’m just the stallion she needs.”
What the two macho young cowboys were staring at was a tall woman filling the gas tank of a nondescript tan sedan with government plates. She stood stiff-legged and bent slightly at the waist, causing the hem of her impeccable dark blue silk dress to ride up extraordinarily long calves, and the tightened fabric to accentuate the cleavage of her posterior, afforded by her recent acquisition of two pairs of thong panties.
Suddenly the swarthy little man still sitting in the front seat removed his blue-green golf hat and stuck his balding head out the window.
“C’mon, will ya, Agnes! I’m gettin heat rash here, for cryin’ out loud!”
-- Lon Frank (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 15, 2001.
The resolution was incredible, Helen thought. But what was truly astounding was what she was looking at, in real time, through the camera lens that Julie was panning across the mesa's hidden enclosed walls. Julie heard Helen gasp - even through the tiny but powerful speaker on the phone/camera.
"Julie, we are saving the feed on our end. Keep panning the camera across the entire area. Don't miss anything, even if it looks like nothing special. When you are done, go back into Lamesa and pack up. I need you and Pat back here in D.C. as soon as possible, and will begin making your travel arrangements immediately. You've done a great job, Julie. I can't explain right now, but you've found something important - in fact, very important. We'll discuss it all when you arrive here tomorrow."
Helen continued monitoring the data feed. She was ecstatic. Only a handful of people on Earth would know what Julie's camera was filming. She was one of them. She dialed the inside line of her Chief Scientist, a cryptographer, and told him to come down and look at the film. But she already guessed what he would say the markings really were- - -
the missing set of code instructions for the teleporter.
The scientist entered the vault and began watching the wall screen as the code instructions on the film went slowly by - his mouth was wide open in surprise and delight. Soon the feed ended, with Julie's camera showing details of a pale figure being lifted up into the sky. The camera lingered on this carved scene for a while, then the feed stopped and the screen went dark.
Helen turned towards the scientist and smiled. "Get the whole team engaged. We need to do everything possible to be ready for the next test - now that we have the final code sequence. Let me know the instant it is deciphered and everything made ready."
The scientist left the vault with excited anticipation, as Helen began contemplating tomorrow's discussion with Julie. It was not going to be easy to convince the young agent of what was needed next. But it had to be done. Helen Bee Mebs just couldn't see any other way- - -
-- (email@example.com), March 15, 2001.
you don good... now i gotta go c how to git stupid 'puta to go!
-- t th c (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 15, 2001.
But if the instruction were part of the carving (if I understand the story write) .....what happens if the writer has to back and make a change.....Does the white-out rub off over time?
-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (email@example.com), March 16, 2001.
Julie put the project Rainbow folder down, looked directly into Helen's eyes, and sat a bit straighter in the high-back leather chair as Helen began explaining what was going on.
"The carvings in the mesa were done by none other than Alexander, and as you have just seen they closely resemble the patterns in the Rainbow folder. They are part of the coded set of instructions for the Teleporter, and we hope to use this machine to go back in time, find him, and bring him back to the present. So now you can see the significance of your discovery. Also, there was one other carving that you filmed - that last one - of a white figure being elevated up into the sky. After thinking about it, I've come to believe that the person depicted in the carving was Alexander - being taken aboard an Alien vessel. I don't think we'll ever find out who made the carving of that - but it was a sufficiently impressive event to them that they felt like they had to immortalize it in stone. This brings us to what is next." At this, Helen looked away and took a deep breadth before beginning.
"Julie, I want you to hear me out before coming to any conclusions," Helen started. "First, the teleporter has been successfully used several times, but not yet with any living thing - only inanimate objects. We couldn't even contemplate trying a test with an animal or person until we had the missing set of code instructions. Now we do, thanks to both Pat and you. The whole point of this mission is to bring Alexander back from the past. I can't think of any other way to do this but to try the Teleporter. I want to send Pat back time to find Alexander."
No way, Julie thought to herself. She stiffened in her seat and fought back a strong desire to 'not come to any conclusions'. It was obvious that Helen was not done speaking yet. She pressed her lips together tightly and continued to listen.
"I know, Julie, you have reservations about that. Let me tell you my reason. When we use the Teleporter to back in time we will be deaf, dumb, and blind. We won't know or in any way be able to control what is happening. That's where Pat comes in. The dog is able to communicate with you, even from somewhere in the past. With you here, and Pat back in time, we would be able to know what is happening, and more importantly, control what was happening at least to some extent." Helen paused, looked down at the carpeted floor, then back up to Julie expectantly.
"No," Julie said softly. "I'm sorry, Helen, but I simply can't agree to such a thing. Sending Pat back in time in an experimental machine is too risky. Frankly, I'm surprised - and disappointed. I thought you had something sensible, uh, I mean less risky, in mind. There must be another way."
Helen normally would have been bristling with fury at this impertinence, but this time she had expected it and so was able to maintain her composure. In a way, she even admired Julie. The young woman had spirit, that was for sure. She replied in an even voice; "There isn't any alternative, Julie. There was only the one Alien time machine, and now that's gone - forever probably. But we do have the Teleporter. It's the only way. That's why I'm suggesting this."
Julie was between the proverbial rock and a hard place, and needed some time to think. She surprised Helen by asking; "When will the final code set be completely deciphered and the Teleporter ready to test?"
Helen's eyebrows raised slightly as she said; "The decryption is almost done now - as we speak it's being completed. A test can be scheduled for as early as tomorrow assuming all of the adjustments can be programmed in. Why?"
Julie once again looked her boss directly in the eyes as she said; "Because I have something else in mind."
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 16, 2001.
"What do you have in mind?" asked Helen.
Julie smiled and said; "I see your logic, Helen, but want to do two things before I would agree to send Pat. First, let's do a test - but not with Pat. Can't we use a lab animal first? And second, if that test is successful, and I know this sounds ridiculous, but I must request that I ask Pat if it is ok."
At that a very loud "Woof" reverberated in the Pentagon vault. Evidently, Pat thought this an eminently reasonable request.
Now it was Helen's turn to smile. Julie had passed the test - she didn't give in when cornered, rather, she quickly and logically looked for alternatives. Julie wasn't going to follow anyone blindly. She was ADRO material. Julie had seen Helen's smile and mis-read it for amusement at what she had just proposed. She was young and inexperienced, not realizing that in this profession these types of games were not only normal, but necessary - for survival.
Helen turned towards her newest agent and said; "As for sending a lab animal, I thought of that, naturally, but rejected it. We would have no communication capability. All it would tell us is if the animal went from here to wherever and was ok. But maybe that in itself makes some sense at this point. OK, I'll agree to do it, and also agree to have you ask Pat. After witnessing first-hand what the dog can do, I couldn't possibly say no."
Now Julie's smile grew wider. They had a deal. Tomorrow, the experimental Teleporter would be tested with a lab animal. If it was successful, Pat had a decision to make.
None of them knew that the decision was going to be made for all of them - and that it wasn't going to be pleasant.
-- (email@example.com), March 16, 2001.
Yippee!!! I have working e's and r's again!
And this story is wonderful... I'm so glad we have such talent amongst us!
-- Tricia the Canuck (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 16, 2001.
So you had to take the 'puter to the ER to get your e's and r's?
Tricia, on a more serious note, (rare, indeed) - Just as with the original TB2K FRL, I don't know what we'd do without you. Thanks for your continual encouragement and presents :-), Dear and Loyal FRlian.
-- (email@example.com), March 16, 2001.
PRESENTS!??? What presents? She dint give me no presents.
-left out as usual--
-- Lon Frankenstien (evil@twinsR.us), March 17, 2001.
Rob obliviously meant 'presence'. He never could spell worth a dang, like I kin.
-- (Mike Roberts@lter.ego), March 17, 2001.
Everything was ready for the test of the experimental Teleporter. The lab rat had been anesthetized and placed inside the transport area. Helen gave a nod of her head and the Chief Scientist activated the final code sequence as Julie and Pat stood and watched. The machine hummed louder with each passing second as light particles traveled faster and faster from the top to the bottom inside the Teleporter. The rat just lay there, unable to move. Then, with a flash of white light, it was gone. The machine's hum stopped, as did the stream of light particles. Everyone just stood there waiting.
After about a minute, Helen once again turned to the scientist and nodded her head. The scientist started the machine again, using the reverse sequence of instructions to bring the lab rat back. As the machine hummed the particles of light began dancing faster and faster - this time streaming from the bottom of the Teleporter to the top. Then came the white flash. Julie, Pat, Helen and the scientist looked at the transport area with expectation. None of them realized that each of them were actually holding their breath.
Then, as one, they saw it.
Julie turned away and closed her eyes.
The chief scientist covered his mouth and ran to the bathroom just outside the lab.
Helen just stood there, as did Pat, continuing to look at the bottom of the transport area in abject horror.
They had indeed transported the rat back in time. But what came back was a grizzly, shapeless, mass of bone, muscle, and blood, that nobody would ever recognize as what, only a few minutes earlier, had been a rat. Mercifully, it was unquestionably dead.
And now, so was the project.
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 17, 2001.
But, but, the project can't be over! After all, there were some mysterious hints about strange things going on during the summer solstice... and somehow I can't believe any scientist worthy of the name would be put off by a bit of blood and gore. Especially not rat blood and gore.
Ah well, guess I'll jest sit back a bit and wait to see what happens (impatiently, of course ;-)
-- Tricia the Canuck (email@example.com), March 17, 2001.
I'm just now getting a chance to catch up... Lon, did you get a speeding ticket lately? ;-)
-- Gayla (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 18, 2001.
Julie, Pat, and Helen sat dejectedly around the conference table in the vault. The test had proven to be a disaster. Julie kept thinking to herself that it could have been Pat instead of the lab rat. Helen saw the expression on the young woman's face and suspected what was going on in her mind. But Helen had other things on her mind. Specifically, where did they go from here?
"Julie, we thought we had everything we needed, but evidently we're still missing something, and Alexander was really our last hope. It looks like not even he had all of the information. I'm sorry. You obviously were right to want to do this preliminary test. But now, well, I have to think about what our options are. Unfortunately, at the moment I really just don't know."
Julie managed a slight smile. At least her boss had feelings, and appeared to be genuinely concerned for Pat. That was something, after all. She liked Helen, and wanted to try and help. She remembered something about another survivor of the awful accident that killed the original scientists. Something about a survivor was in the Project Rainbow folder that she had glanced through. Maybe they could get a lead from there. Probably not, she thought to herself. Helen was efficient and smart. She would have thought of that. Still, Julie decided to mention it.
"Helen, where is the surviving scientist from the lab explosion? Is the person still alive. Maybe they could help." Julie looked down at Pat who was stretched out on the floor, head between its paws, and then looked up to hear Helen's response.
"The one survivor actually was the former chief scientist. He was the one that had the most knowledge of everything related to the project. If anyone would know what to do to get the Teleporter to work, it would be him. Unfortunately, he disappeared too. There were some handwritten notes about him in Alexander's file. For some reason, Alexander didn't completely trust him, which I guess is the reason Alexander tried to gain as much knowledge of the project for himself as possible. Evidently, they didn't get along. I have no idea why. From everything else I have read, Lucky was a capable and wonderful asset. In fact, the project couldn't have even gotten this far without him."
Pat stood up on all fours. Julie's pretty eyes went wide. "Did you say 'Lucky'?" she asked.
"Yes," Helen answered, somewhat confused at Julie's reaction. "That was his code name."
Julie's voice was excited as she said; "Why Helen, don't you see. It's the same Lucky that I was working with the FBI to find - and that Alexander chased all over the place. And now, for the first time, I begin to see the reason."
Now Helen's eyes were wide with understanding. "How could I have missed it. Lucky! The person Alexander was hell bent on catching was also the former chief scientist of the ADRO Teleporter project. They are one and the same person!"
Both women were somewhat startled at the very loud WOOF that suddenly echoed throughout the vault.
Helen's mind went quickly to work, trying to recall everything about Lucky, who was still missing. If they were to get the Teleporter working, they would have to find the scientist. But could they? Was he even still alive? There was no choice. They had to try. Besides, Tricia had made it quite clear that the project was not over, and Gayla had returned too.
Helen turned to Julie and smiled. "The project isn't quite dead after all. But we'll have to find Lucky if we're ever going to get the Teleporter working. Let's get started."
-- (email@example.com), March 18, 2001.
I still haven't gotten to read all of it yet, but just wanted to tell Rob how amazed I am at his ability to pull the two stories together. (or are you guys in 'cahoots' in emails again?) :-)
-- Gayla (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 19, 2001.
OR, perhaps 'Lucky' is in jail somewhere for speeding? ;-)
-- Gayla (email@example.com), March 19, 2001.
OK, OK, here is a present for Lon. Maybe now he'll come back? ;-)
-- Gayla (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 19, 2001.
Thanks, Gayla! Oh Looky here, it's a rubber nose, size large tall.
And no, I don't get a lot speeding tickets. My cousin, a Deputy Sheriff, gave me that perspective on the Hwy Patrol. :-P
-- Lon Frank (email@example.com), March 19, 2001.
Sure, Lon! I believe you. ;-)
"In the waning years of her own life, Running Rabbit would return alone to the hidden mesa and look again on their handiwork, and she would moisten her own hands with the while chalk-paint, and place them near the bottom of the flying man. The next woman to enter the mesa would marvel at the delicate hand prints, and Julie would find that they were a perfect match for her own."
What a cool twist!
-- Gayla (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 23, 2001.
Sigh. Oh well, I guess I can wait for the writing bug to bite again... just don't expect me to do so silently or patiently!
So... here, buggy, buggy; here buggy. Bite that Lon and get him going again. Rob's nice and tasty too! :-)
-- Tricia the Canuck (email@example.com), March 24, 2001.
Now the writing bug isn't sure which one to bite!
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 24, 2001.
It had stopped raining for three days now, and the southern Louisiana sun had begun to give the little road a topping of fine dust. The old man once again wore the ancient clothes that he was most accustomed to; a threadbare yellowish plaid coat, striped and hugely baggy red pants, and size 47, lime green clown shoes. Wisps of shaggy orange hair stuck out from under his tattered and flower-bedecked straw hat. As he walked, his pace was marked by the distinctive waddle necessitated by the big shoes and ingrained into his character by years of service under the now-vanished big top. When he reached the end of the little bayou lane, he sat on his old blue suitcase and waited for the vehicle he knew was coming to take him on his newest adventure.
It was early spring, and the back-water communities along the bayou country would be celebrating the maturity of a most unlikely regional delicacy. Muddy little towns all along the upper Gulf coast were soon to stage annual “Crawfish Boils”. The Cajun equivalent of county fairs, crawfish boils were part carnival, part civic fund raiser, and part family reunion. They were a swirling midway of aging Tilt-a-Whirls and cheap stuffed blue doggies. Trailer park urchins would stand in line beside the local banker and the high school principal. Clutching their requisite tickets, they each wait at the battered gate of the bumper car arena with equal anticipation at the thought of bashing the bejebers out of each other. Preteen girls giggle and run through the crowd, wearing left-over green and purple Mardi Gras beads and stick-on tattoos. Their older sisters, striding along with newly discovered sensuality, would be showing off navel rings shining on their bare midriffs, and unperceptively watching for teen-aged boys out of the corners of their eyes.
But the real driving force of it all would be the food. Along with the commercial booths offering hot dogs and red candy apples, would be the local Lions and Elks and school band boosters hawking bowls of steaming rice and beans, shrimp-on-a-stick, and of course, paper plates heaped with boiled crawfish. Toddling grandmothers would be wearing baseball caps adorned with red lobster-like claws, and various village idiots could be found wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the thin innuendo “SUCK THE HEAD”.
But most important to the old clown, there would be children. Herded by soccer moms, screaming and screamed at, squealing, laughing, and generally running amok, the kids were what called to him. Strollers filled with fat, grinning babies drooling pink cotton candy liqueur, shy little boys reaching into his cavernous pockets to abscond with the ever-present piece of penny candy, and unpretentious flirtations of gangs of teen-aged girls, not quite old enough to resist his grease painted smile; these were the images which haunted the winter dreams of the forgotten old man. And these were the memories which called him out upon the road once again, waddling towards an unforeseen reunion of his own.
Miss Chlorine Washington was a large woman, the kind referred to in personal ads as BBW, “big, beautiful woman”. Never obese, but at 5’10”, she still tipped the scales at a shade over 200 pounds. She wore an ankle length dress with a red African print motif, and white, thick-soled SAS shoes. Her ebony face glowed with a healthiness born of good humor and maintained by self confidence. Her jet black hair was exquisite with woven (and wove-in) braids, pulled back and knotted with two ivory chop sticks.
Her mother had been a share-croppers daughter, uneducated and pregnant at fourteen, when she overheard two white men talking in the drug store on a trip to Abbeville. She had named her new daughter “Chlorine”, without knowing the meaning, just because it had a fairy quality to it which seemed to suit her tiny newborn. By the time she had reached junior high school, the girl had learned to pronounce her name “Cloe-REEN”, and had grown into a near-Amazon.
Though she had been continually an honor role student, her real claim to fame was her athletic ability. Two days after graduation from high school, she gathered her seven younger siblings together, tearfully kissing them in turn before she boarded the Greyhound west to Prairie View A&M. The traditionally all-black Texas school had offered her a partial scholarship to play basketball and pursue an education which was still sadly illusive to many girls in Vermillion Parish at that time.
She had spent much of the past twenty years working in city hospitals, but now, at forty-four, or as she put it,”thirty-nine and a little”, she had returned to the low country under the cypress and Spanish moss to practice as a traveling home-care nurse. She had told everyone it was a good position with higher pay, but truthfully, she had taken the job mostly to be once again near her sisters and their children, and the pay was nearly 40% less than in the city. But the one-on-one relationship she enjoyed with her mostly elderly patients had given her an unsuspected satisfaction and filled her with a new sense of usefulness, which the routine of the big hospital had slowly eroded.
She had become, on the outside, at least, comfortable with the fact that she had never married, and found herself often laughing with unconscious ease at her youngest sister’s brood of five rambunctous boys.
Chlorine Washington just happened to be driving the fated vehicle that morning, and was the first to see the clown waiting beside the highway. Her “city ways” were obviously waning, because she would never have stopped a year ago, but something about the old gent’s eyes seemed to say he was waiting just for her. She stopped beside him, and when Lucky opened the door she was laughing so hard she could hardly speak.
“Lawsy mister, you look like you just got run over by a paint truck! Get yourself in, and tell me where we’re goin
-- Lon Frank (email@example.com), March 25, 2001.
......where we goin' now that we is dressed up"
-- Lon Frank (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 25, 2001.
After their last successful and highly covert mission, Agents Maggart and Redford were each given promotions within ADRO. Those in the Agency who knew the two partners, realized it was plain and simply a case of being in the right place at the right time. Special Agent Brooks had been understandably brief in reporting his involvement that afternoon at the old mansion in Louisiana, and had been subsequently exonerated and allowed to return to his deep cover assignment as a Jersey police detective. The two civilians involved, a west Texas rancher and his slightly scitzoid wife, each gave glowing testimony of the bravery and initiative of tall female agent and her rotund counterpart. But those who really knew the whole story, knew that the promotions were only the Agency way to tighten it’s grip on the young agents, and to insure their silence concerning the events of that sultry night among the moldy ruins under a swollen swamp moon.
Helen Bee Mebs was one of those few who knew the whole story, and it had been she, who personally called Agent Agnes Magart and instructed her to assist the newly hired Julie in her search for Alexander Lawless. Two weeks later she and Agent Robert Redford had interviewed absolutely everyone involved with this latest lead; the Highway Patrol officer, the illegal alien, the rancher on whose land the hidden mesa was located, and even the town psychic in Seminole.
Actually, it was the psychic, an ancient and incredibly wrinkled Indian who called herself Still Water Woman, and who claimed to trace her ancestry back through a hundred generations of her people who knew the secrets held within the fluid depths of human memory, that gave them their only fruitful clue.
“Oh, for crimony sake, Agnes, we ain’t really going to see some old broad living in a shack on the desert are we? She’ll probably put a hex on us, and turn me into a slimy little lizard or something.”
Agent Redford was sweating profusely, and tugging at the waste band of his trousers as they walked along the trail which led to a small adobe dwelling, maybe 200 yards from the highway. A small hand painted sign proclaimed “Still Water Woman, Seer of Souls, Teller of Secrets Readings $12”
“Would you quit whining and grow up? And you’re already a slimy little lizard.”
With a stride length of half that of the tall female, Agent Redford had already fallen ten feet behind, and he now lowered his voice to a mumble.
“Yeah, well that’s better than bein’ a female daddy longlegs spider, I guess.”
“WHAT was that? Did you say something, Special-Agent-NOT-in-Charge, Redford?”
“Jees, Agnes, I don’t mind you being the boss, but you don’t have to throw it in my face alla time, do ya? I mean we both know it's just because you’re a woman, and that old bat, Helen Bee Mebs has a thing for women agents.”
“Oh, now, that is SO not true! I got the grade because I faced death and danger and stayed with the old geezers, while you went to take a leak in the bushes, for all we knew. And Helen Bee Mebs does not have a “thing” for female agents.”
Robert had made up the slight distance between them, and hurried past the spindly young woman, as he approached the door of the hovel. “Oh yeah, then why does she have a better moustache than Salvadore Dali, answer me that? And did you ever notice the forearms? I tell you, she's Popeye’s love child, that’s what. And can we PLEASE get in the shade, I’m turnin’ into a lobster here, O K?”
The withered crone had opened the door with neither introduction nor greeting. The two agents stepped silently inside, into a small room which smelled of sage and marijuana. Only one tiny window allowed a stream of light to pierce the coolness, and on the deepset window sill sat a small pottery jar of purest white, with black desert birds flying around it’s rim. She motioned them to sit on the floor on the far side of the little patch of sunlight, and disappeared through a low and darkened doorway.
Agent Redford dropped easily to the stone floor, just barely four feet below his head. “Great, just great! Now we’re probably gonna get busted for smokin’ pot with the old babe. What is she anyway, a poster girl for California Prunes?”
“Will you shut up already?” Agnes was having more difficulty managing to take her seat. Her extraordinarily long legs, while a constant source of ingratiating stares from strange men, were somewhat unmanageable when it came to sitting cross-legged on the floor. Finally, she jerked up her tailored and tight-fitting skirt to the upper limits of her thighs and dropped with all the grace and appearance of a pile of children's “pick-up sticks”. Robert watched closely, his eyes growing wider and his mouth subconsciously falling open at the sight of so much unprotected female flesh. “Just one word, just one, you little weasel, and I’ll leave you here for the old woman to experiment on, I swear.”
But her corpulent minion was jerked back to reality when the old woman suddenly placed a wide bowl of water in the circle of light and settled on the other side as silently as the desert dust. Agent-in-charge Magart took a breath and meant to tell the old woman of their mission, but the psychic lifted a roughened hand before she could speak.
“Still Water Woman knows what it is you seek. You wish to find one of your own, one who has traveled far, one who hides.” She made a face of slight repulsion. “Still Water Woman sees his skin. She smells his stench. You seek the White Shaman, the flying man.”
Two days later they were sitting at a conference table in a protected room at ADRO headquarters with Helen Bee Mebs and Julie. Pat sat beside his human companion in the same padded armchair that Henry Kissinger had often occupied. On the table in front of her, Helen had the report Agnes had forwarded ahead of their meeting. She seemed to be deep in thought at the moment. A moment which was shattered by Agent Redford.
“That’s right, Miz Mebs, I’m tellin’ ya she KNEW. That dusty old broad knew all about us an’ Lawless and everything. We didn’t say a word - she just knew.”
Helen Bee Mebs narrowed her eyes and gazed at Robert as if he were an obnoxious nephew at a tea party. She pursed her thin lips, and pointedly looked at Agnes before she spoke.
“This is all she said, this old Indian woman; just what you put in your report?”
Agnes had never met the head of the agency in person, and was a little nervous, especially now that her uncouth partner had evidently pee-peed in the post toasties. “That’s right Director Mebs, she said only that, and then just disappeared as if into thin air. She said we needed to find another man before we could prevail. She said we must find the Painted Man, and he would lead us.”
At the words, “painted man”, Pat looked at Julie and gav
-- Lon Frank (email@example.com), March 25, 2001.
....and gave a muted "woof".
-- Lon Frank (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 25, 2001.
Lon got bit! :-)
-- Gayla (email@example.com), March 25, 2001.
"she boarded the Greyhound west to Prairie View A&M..."
I drove by Prairie View yesterday on my way NW in search of Bluebonnets. :-)
-- Gayla (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 26, 2001.
Yup, he sure did get bit, and I gotta go find that little critter and thank her personally! More story, YIPPEEEE!!!
-- Tricia the Canuck (email@example.com), March 28, 2001.
Well??? Well???? We're WAITING! (I know I instructed that dumb bug to bite BOTH of them! I'm gonna ask for a partial refund!) ;-)
-- Gayla (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 29, 2001.
Helen Bee Mebs sat alone in her office thinking how odd it all was. Agents Maggart and Redford basically had been informed by the old Indian woman that they needed to find the White Shaman, who was called the Flying Man, and also called the Painted Man - that this person would be the one to lead them to Alexander.
Helen also thought about what Julie and Pat had found out, and what, together, they had surmised - that they needed to find the former chief scientist - code-named 'Lucky', who remained the only possible person with the missing knowledge to get the Teleporter working and go back in time for Alexander. This was the same Lucky who was also the Clown that Alexander had pursued with total reckless abandon.
Helen smiled to herself and gazed out her office window. The clown, the chief scientist,the White Shaman, the Flying Man, the Painted Man - all of these were names for just one individual: Lucky.
Agents Maggart and Redford had, in their own way, confirmed what she and Julie and Pat had already speculated on. They needed Lucky to get the Teleporter working and then find Alexander. It was as simple as that.
Helen had sent the two agents back to try and find the old Indian woman. If they could locate her again, then perhaps they would be able to get a lead on where Lucky was from her. It was worth a shot. While they tried their luck on that, Helen would try to get a lead on Lucky from Julie and Pat. The three had evidently become friendly in the short time they had known each other back when they were all trying to find the time machine.
Helen got up, left her office, and began the short trip to the vault, where she would meet Julie and Pat in a few minutes. In her hand, she held a yellow envelope with a photo. Once again, she smiled to herself. Julie and Pat weren't the only ones who would be meeting with her in the vault. This day was going to be one to remember for them all - as Helen had arranged for another person to be there with them -
a very special person. . .
-- (email@example.com), March 29, 2001.
Julie and Pat walked down the long carpeted narrow corridor to the vault and entered to find Helen sitting in her usual spot. Next to her was a middle-aged nondescript looking man in blue jeans and a flannel shirt. Julie looked questioningly at Helen with some surprise as Pat went over to the man, tail wagging, and sat down.
"This is number 9," Helen said. "He is our best remote viewer. I have requested he be here to take part in our experiment to find Lucky." Julie looked at the man now with renewed interest. He gave a sheepish little smile in return.
"You see," began Helen, "we first need to determine and confirm that Lucky is here in the present - our time period, in other words. If he is, then number 9 should be able to find some evidence of that. Assuming that we can verify this, we will then work together with you and Pat to try and lock in on Lucky."
Helen took the photo of Lucky out of the yellow envelope and showed it to the remote viewer. What followed was truly astounding. The man ran his fingers slowly over the face in the photo - almost as if he were feeling it, Julie thought. After a while, his head bowed down and his eyes closed - he looked to be in some kind of trance or omething.
Julie looked at Helen expectantly. Several tense minutes passed. Then number 9 began to speak. But what he said made no sense to Julie - but it did make sense to Helen. The man sat up straight again, opened his eyes, and looked at Helen. "Thank you, number 9, that will be all for now." At that, the man got up and left without saying a word, as if this was all just perfectly normal!.
Julie turned to Helen now in total confusion. Helen smiled. "You're wondering what those numbers that he said meant." Julie nodded, and a soft woof echoed in the vault. "They are a set of coordinates - latitude and longitude. Number 9 found Lucky and reported where he was!"
Helen walked over to the globe that was in one corner of the room and spun it slowly around. Two fingers traced the latitude and longitude intersection where number 9 said Lucky was. Julie went over to look over Helen's shoulder and saw, with astonishment, where her fingers met.
It was in Louisiana.
Helen turned to Pat and smiled down at the cute pooch. "Ok, Pat, now we know that Lucky is alive and in our own time period, and that he is somewhere in Louisiana. I need your help now. Ready?"
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 29, 2001.
-- (email@example.com), March 30, 2001.
Agent Redford hung up the phone, then turned to face Maggart. "That was Miz Mebs. I told her we haven't had any luck yet with tracking down that old Indian woman, but it doesn't seem to matter anymore. Somehow she found out that Lucky is in Louisiana, and since we're right next door she wants us to go there. We're to fly into New Orleans and then contact her after we arrive. She expects to have more specific information by then." Agnes Maggart uncrossed her long longs, stood up, and sighed. "Well then, we should get going right now. Let's hope this goes better than last time we went after him."
Helen showed Pat the photo of Lucky, as Julie sat quietly waiting for whatever vision Pat was going to send her. But this time, no vision came. Confused, Julie turned to Pat. "What's the matter pooch?" Pat issued a low growl. At that, Julie and Helen exchanged worried and surprised glances. What the heck was the matter with Pat?
Once again, Helen reached down and put the photo of Lucky in front of the golden retriever. Julie waited. Nothing. The young agent gave her boss a frustrated look and shook her head. "Nothing, Helen. I don't know why."
Julie decided to try a more direct approach. She turned to Pat and looked at the dog carefully. "What's up pooch, is something wrong?" "Woof."
At that point, Julie felt the familiar beginnings of the tingling sensation at her temples and within seconds the vision came. After a moment, it was gone. Julie turned to Helen and frowned. "Pat just showed me Dr. Gold - the veterinarian I used to work for that nursed Pat back to health! And then Pat showed me the other three beavers - they were all playing happily by the dam! Next I saw the inside of - well - it was one of those ships - you know - and there were all of these strange tall liquid-filled tubes with things inside - things that were moving - alive. I... I don't know what to make of any of this!"
Julie turned to Pat in exasperation. "Does this have to do with Lucky, Pat?" Woof, Woof. "No? Well I don't understand! We are trying to find Lucky! Why are you showing me these other things?" Pat growled. "Ok," Julie continued, "is there something else you are trying to tell me - something important?" Woof. Julie frowned. Helen sat straighter in her chair. Once again Pat sent Julie a vision. This time Julie saw Dr. Gold again, and the doctor was examining a puppy.
Julie looked at Pat with concern. "Are you sick honey?" Woof, Woof. "Well why do you keep showing me Dr. Gold? Does she have something to do with Lucky?" Woof, Woof. Julie shook her head. Helen stood up and walked over to where Pat was. The Head of ADRO looked at Pat and asked, "Pat, do you want to go and see Dr. Gold?"
The two women exchanged glances. Helen stood back up, turned to Julie, and said, "There's no point in you and Pat trying to continue with finding Lucky right now. I want you to take Pat to Dr. Gold and find out what is going on with the pooch. In the meantime, we'll rely on Agents Maggart and Redford to track Lucky down.
Within an hour, Julie and Pat were on their way back to New Jersey - and to Dr. Gold's office. Julie was worried about Pat. What could be wrong? Why was Pat insisting on seeing the Dr. right in the middle of a mission? Thank God she wouldn't have to wait long to find out. She had called the doctor and made an appointment. It wouldn't be too long now - but the suspense was killing her.
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 30, 2001.
Well, it's killing ME, too! HURRY! LOL
(((Rob))) sorry about the pain, but... your pain, our gain! :-)
-- Gayla (email@example.com), March 30, 2001.
Yup, he's bit but good ;-)
Hope it works for a while, but it's spring, and if I remember correctly, Rob finds that the fish bite too.....
-- Tricia the Canuck (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 01, 2001.
It wouldn't be long now, Julie thought as she pulled her car into the Dr. Gold's veterinary clinic. After parking, she and Pat went into the back entrance, as instructed by Dr. Gold. Julie had once worked here and was highly thought of by the good doctor. The clinic was closed, but, given the circumstances, Dr. Gold had agreed to meet Julie and take a look at Pat.
Julie remembered back to when she phoned the doctor and asked for an 'emergency' appointment. The doctor seemed mildly surprised to find out that she had a dog these days, and was genuinely intrigued that she couldn't or wouldn't reveal the nature of the 'emergency'. But the doctor had always liked Julie, and after all, she was a former employee, so she agreed to meet Julie after hours and have a look at 'Pat'.
Julie knew that she couldn't really tell Dr. Gold much. She certainly couldn't let anyone know the truth. . . Oh yes, Dr. Gold, Uh, I may have neglected to tell you, but this dog of mine was given to me by Aliens from outer space. Someone killed Pat the Androgynous Golden Beaver - the same one you operated on to give gold teeth, you remember - but they were able to save the beaver's brain, and decided to transplant it into the body of a dog instead of another beaver - this dog right here in fact, see?
No, that wouldn't do at all, Julie thought, as she entered into the rear of the building. As if reading her very thoughts, she heard a soft 'woof' and looked down to see Pat - the dog she had grown to love. The truth was she still hadn't figured out what to tell Dr. Gold the 'emergency' was. But that didn't matter to her much. Pat wanted, no, Pat needed to see the doctor, and so, here they were.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Dr. Gold's face lit up as she saw her former employee enter. "Hi Julie! It's so good to see you again. And this must be Pat. But what is the emergency?" The doctor looked carefully at Julie, waiting for a response.
Julie actually frowned. "I, uh, well, I can't really say for sure. All I know is that Pat needs to see you - please, Dr. Gold, don't ask me to explain. I can't.
The good doctor was really intrigued at this point. What the hell? she thought. "Ok, Julie, I don't understand this at all, but at least I can have a look at the dog. Bring the pooch in the examination room. By the way, you didn't say if Pat was a boy or girl."
"Well, Pat is sorta special Doc."
At that, Dr Gold's smile faded and she looked directly into Julie's pretty eyes. "How so, Julie?"
"Pat is androgynous - like the beaver you treated last year."
-- (email@example.com), April 07, 2001.
OH! I'm gone for a few weeks and find a Helen in a story!! I gotta catch up!!
-- helen (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 08, 2001.
Yippee! Ya know, I named her after three of youz guyz (Helen, Aunt Bee, and mebs) and FINALLY, one of ya comes back and finds out. Yeah! I even made her a nice person :-) Hope ya enjoy the story Helen. Now if only Aunt Bee and mebs will return. . .
Tricia: Yep, you have a good memory. I am a fishin' fool. Trout season opened yesterday :-)
-- (email@example.com), April 08, 2001.
I'm humbly honored and reading up as fast as I can...
-- helen (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 08, 2001.
Yup, I remember this time last year hanging from a thread in some story and wryly regretting that the inspiration for the story was drawing the author away from it's finish!
-- Tricia the Canuck (email@example.com), April 08, 2001.
Sounds like we're all related here ... I went to Prairie View for a summer advanced placement chemistry class while back in high school......wonder if they have that big round gym we watched movies in every night.
-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 08, 2001.
Helen Bee Mebs put the small metal key into the Secure Telephone Unit, pressed the encryption button, and then said "Ok, Julie, go ahead."
"I just came from Dr. Gold's clinic and she examined Pat. I, uh, I don't understand how but, well, Pat is pregnant!"
Helen let out an audible gasp. "But Pat is androgynous and doesn't have all of the 'female parts' for that!"
Julie sighed. "That's what we all thought, even Dr. Gold. But evidently, Pat has! This is the first case that Dr. Gold has ever heard of this happening too! She was quite excited about the whole thing and wanted me to bring Pat back when the labor starts. But Helen, God's my witness, Pat hasn't been with any other dogs! I don't know how this has happened. And Dr. Gold is absolutely sure too. I worked for her, and I can tell you she is very competent. If she says that Pat is pregnant then it's true. And it'll only be another week or so too!"
Helen's mind went to work quickly. "No wonder the pooch wanted to leave here and go to the vet! But if Pat hasn't been with any other dog, then how did this happen?"
"That's the thing, Helen. I don't know! Pat's been with me all of the time and hasn't even been around any other dogs. Oh, and one other thing - Dr. Gold said that it was possible that Pat's litter might include something other than boy's and girl's. In other words, there could be one that is like Pat; androgynous."
All of the wheels were turning in Helen's head. A new thought occurred to her. "Julie, if Pat is pregnant and hasn't had any opportunity to get that way there is only one other explanation that I can think of - it must have happened when Pat was in the Alien ship."
"Oh my God, Helen!" Julie exclaimed. "If that's true then who knows what Pat will have. It may not even be puppies! Pat might be carrying beaver pups! Who knows what will happen if THEY did this. Oh my God." Then Julie remembered something else. "And one more thing Helen. Pat's 'vision' days seem to over - at least temporarily. I can't get any images from Pat anymore. Maybe it's related to Pat's condition. I don't know for sure. This is all so unexpected. Oh my God."
Helen took a deep breath and lowered her voice just a bit. "Calm down, Julie. I think it best if you and Pat get back here to the Pentagon - right now. It'll give us time to think about this whole thing. So come back here now. I'll make all of the arrangements, and I'll also see to it that we a good veterinarian on hand. First, we have to consider Pat's safety, then everything else."
Helen released the special encryption key on the telephone and removed the small key. As she sat down in her chair, she had one very clear and succinct thought:
Oh My God.
-- (email@example.com), April 08, 2001.
Wow! Who's been petting Pat and took it further than just petting!?!?
And what happened to that writing bug? It obviously hasn't been hungry enough :-(
-- Tricia the Canuck (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 14, 2001.
It had once been an excellent example of Navajo artistry, a classic “Yei dancer” pattern blanket. The tension of it’s warp threads and tightness of the woven yarn had given it an almost waterproof durability. But the old woman had particularly liked the muted colors of the plant dyes and the thin characterizations of the figures as they danced around the single stalk of corn.
But now, the subtle colors were almost faded out entirely from the harsh West Texas sun. It had been ten years since Still Water Woman had used the blanket to cover the worn seat of her 1949 Ford pickup truck. The original color of the truck itself had faded into oblivion, and a coating of left-over green house paint was currently flaking from the fenders and hood.
It had taken her three days to coax the decrepit truck eastward into the bayou country of Louisiana; three days since she had seen the vision in the water. It had been little more than a puddle held in a rock hollow beneath a small hidden mesa, but it had called to her, made her seek it out by the fading light of a desert moon. It was just at moon-set that the water gave up it’s secret to her, and the reflection of the stars became the lights of a carnival midway, then swirling night-clouds melded into the face of a man with grease paint smile and wisps of orange hair. Finally, in the darkest hour before dawn, the water showed a misty yellow sun, rising behind moss-draped cypress, and the wind whispered to her a maiden’s lilting name- Jeanerette.
The story of the White Shaman and the Painted Man had been passed down through the women in her family, solitary and gifted with the water’s magic, one in each uncounted generation. She knew the story well, and recognized the role she must now play. She would find the Painted Man and prevent him from bringing back the evil that the two government agents were hunting for. She would do what she was called to do by the lingering spirit of Running Rabbit; the spirit of a young girl blinded on a mid-summer’s eve by the white man with eyes the color of summer grass.
As she pulled the old truck into the Jeanerette Crawfish Celebration, a black and gleaming obsidian blade, made by some forgotten ancestor, was nestled in the folds of the faded blanket on the seat beside her.
The doctor that delivered the baby boy had explained to Mrs. Williams that it had something to do with how the baby had lain in her womb while it developed. Of course, it would not affect the child’s mental capacity or growth in any way, but she should realize that any physical deformity carried a price for a kid, and she should prepare him, and herself as well, for the teasing that would soon come. It was good and necessary advice, because the boy’s overly large ears stuck out at 90 degree angles from his slightly smallish head. He was only three days old when his uncle, who was the mechanic down at LeDues Service Station, starting telling people that the baby looked just like a wingnut.
But as often happens, a childhood handicap turned into an adult strength, and Wingnut Williams had parlayed his notable nickname and famously good humor into a landslide victory in the last election for City Judge. He had been strolling the midway, pressing the flesh, and joking with his constituents for half an hour when he spotted the old man clowning for the kids over by the ring toss booth and recalled all the years that he had seen him here, without ever knowing who he was or where he came from. He motioned towards the old man with orange hair and said to his companion of the moment, “Looky there; I swear he’s even more dependable than the damn crawfish. Ever spring without fail, he comes back to Jeanerette”.
-- Lon Frank (email@example.com), April 17, 2001.
He's Back!! : : : :
-- Tricia the Canuck (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 18, 2001.
Cool front must have blown him back into town. ;-)
Welcome back, Lon!
-- Gayla (email@example.com), April 18, 2001.
I *really* like the title to this story! (Hint, hint!)
-- Tricia the Canuck (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 19, 2001.