Oasis

Waves of distortion hung low in the air as heat radiated up from the parched earth. A silhouette floated across as the soft crunching of footfalls broke the dead calm.  The man squinted his eyes beneath his wide brimmed hat in defense his late afternoon sun. His gaze finds the skeleton of a tree that draws him to it.

Crunch-crunch-crunch

Tucked in a bow, he finds a nest, poor and sloppily built. Inside of the nest sat three chicks, freshly molten from their baby fuzz.  Nude and hot, they look to the sky with open beaks.

The man reached into his bag and pulled out a bottle and straw. The man grimaces as he feels the weight of it.  Shaking the bottle, he heard the splash of remnants. Not much, but some. Dipping the straw into the bottle, he proceeded to quench their thirst, one by one.  Each chick was allowed three pulls all the water was gone.  The man looked up to see their mother sitting on a perch, staring down at him.  He noticed an insect caught in her beak.

Backing away, he nodded to the lady before putting away the bottle and straw. The bird flew to the nest as the man moved on.

Back in the saddle

A man lay down in a bed of earth. His body was covered in a dingy batter of dirt and sweat.  The summer heat of the sun slowly baked the batter to a dry crisp.

Away from him, a horse wandered around, rooting with its nose as it searched for a thatch of grass to munch on.

There was no thought in the man’s head. Just the shallow rising and falling of his chest.  Up, down.  Up, down. In and out. Breathe.

He groaned softly as he lifted his arm to block the sun from his face.

Sore.

An easy move made hard by the crash of the fall.

Cursing silently, he cajoled himself to sit up.

“Is it worth it?” He asked as he looked at the horse.  “Does it really matter?”

His back stiffened in protest as he shifted to his knees. The man slowly turned his head to see if there are any witnesses to his fall.  There was no one around.  Only the three rail fence separating him and the horse from the open fields. Past that, open prairie expanding into the horizon.  No one was there to impress; no one to disappoint. There was nothing to prove. The man exhales slowly.

The horse’s nicked as the man stood up. Every bone and muscle protested against him. He stretched to protest back.

Sighing at the thought, the man groaned as he bent to pick up his hat. Limping as he walked, he made his way to the horse. The horses ears twitched as she shifted away from him.

“Easy.” He soothed. “Let’s take this slow.”

The man slid his boot in the stirrup and climbed back into the saddle.

The Last Joy Ride – Part 1

A young boy bursts into the room, yelling with enthusiasm as he swipes at the wall.  “Come on! You’re gonna miss it!”

The wall glows bright blue before filling up with multiple rectangles, each showing a different channel.

“Hurry up!”  The boy whines as he waves his arm dramatically causing the channels to scroll up.

Seeing what he wants, the child pushes his hand forward and the rectangle fills the wall.

The boy squeals with delight as an image of a helmet slides into the center of a rotating tire.  “It’s on!  It’s on!”

An announcer speaks over the exciting background music.  “Tonight on ‘Road and Driver’, we bring to you the most historic road trip ever!  It is the last time a car shall be legally driven by a person across the United States!  So buckle up and stay tuned.”

A different announcer chimes in immediately. “Tonight’s episode of ‘Road and Driver’ is brought to you by ‘Cathose’; a new kind of car for a new kind of mind.”

The wall turns fades before glowing into a new scene.  A man and a woman are sitting next to each other on a couch. Latin and in their early thirties; they are crisp, clean, healthy, and radiant.  The couch is white and the accessories have just the right amount of color without taking attention away from the actors.  The scene had a feeling of warmth, safety, and security.

            “Imagine Seneca,” The man says as he smiles to the camera. “The last driven road trip.  It’s so exciting.”

            “Yes.”  She replies.  “I’m glad we’re watching it, but I’m even more glad we’re not driving it!”

            “You’re right.”  Her imaginary husband agrees.  “Driving is so dangerous now days.  I’m glad we have the new ‘Cathose’ to do it for us.”

            Seneca nods her head.  “The new ‘Cathose’ has all the safety and conveniences we need to get us where we want to go.”

            The fake husband leans in.  “Piece of mind.  It’s a new kind of mind.”

            “Oh look!”  Seneca declares, pointing at the camera.  “The show’s back on.”

            The man quickly adjusts his position and leans forward with feign interest.

The scene dissolves and is replaced by two men book-ending a map on a screen between them.  Canned applause fills the background and fades as the man on the left begins to speak.  “Thank you!  I am your host, Patrick ‘Sherman’ Phillips and this is my co-host, Brock Peter Williams.”

The canned applause rises as Brock bows and gestures slightly to the camera.

Sherman gives a serious look as he opens his monologue.  “Tonight is a poignant night for us here at Road and Driver. Tonight we witness the last time a car will be legally driven across the country by a person.”

Brock nods in solemn agreement. “Yes, yes.  It is a bitter-sweet time for us. A new era of transportation is upon us and we must say goodbye to a rite of passage and a way of life.”

Sherman claps his hands in a soft prayer and continues.  “And we are saying goodbye in a way only Road and Driver can do.  We have listened to you, our viewers and have teamed up your perfect driver with your perfect car.  Let’s take a look.”

The map on the screen gives way to show a man in his fifties standing next to a car.  The car is low and sleek and the man is surprisingly fit.

“Nathan!”  Brock cheers.  “How are you doing?”

The African-American smiles brightly.  “It’s been a blessing, Brock.  I have been humbled and honored by the people’s choice to be their ambassador on this last great trip across America.”

“What do you think of the car?”  Sherman asks.

“They picked a wonderful choice, Sherm.”  Nathan replies.  “The Chevrolet Corvette is the top of the line American sports car.  With its hybrid technology and mid-engine design, this Corvette is the smoothest, strongest, and most agile Corvette to date.  It’s America’s first sports car and carries with it the embodiment of driving passion.  There is no better car to take this trip with.”

“And what a trip it is.”  Brock interjects.  “This adventure loops the countryside.  Starting in Los Angeles, it moves upward through California, hitting Seattle before heading east, and visiting Sturgis, Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, New York, D.C., Charlotte, Miami, New Orleans, Dallas, Santa Fe, and Las Vegas before crossing the checkered flag in front of the Peterson Museum in Los Angeles.  A true lap of America.”

The camera cuts to Sherman.  “Now since we have been given only three hours to present this historic event.  Most of the trip has already been completed.  Nathan, where are you now?”

Nathan smiles and answers, “I am in wild Las Vegas and getting ready to throttle down to L.A..”

To which Sherman replies, “We will be bringing it to you live along with highlights of the journey taken.”

“Roll on!”  Nathan shouts as he jumps into the seat of the Corvette and hits the start button.

The Conversation

(Just a little fun every author has.)

“Don’t do it.”  The voice whispers as I rub my bleary eyes with the heels of my palms.

“Why shouldn’t I?”  I ask “It seems like a fun way to get a story going.”

“Because of the ramifications.” The voice warns.  “Strong, very strong ramifications.”

Sadie, my yellow lab starts bouncing around and running to the door.  She had just been out less than twenty minutes ago, but she acting like she hasn’t been out in a decade.  Reluctantly I get up and follow her out the door.

“It’s been years since I’ve had this idea.” I state as Sadie waters the lawn.  “Why won’t you let this one grow?”

“It’s too soon.”  The voice calls back.  “The world is not ready for it.”

I follow Sadie back in and close the door behind me.  “Too soon?”  I ask.  “When is it too soon for Sci-Fi to be written?”

“When it can compel others to act upon the ideas before they are mature enough.”

“Oh now you’re grasping at straws.”  I snap back.  “Comic books have been out since the Fifties and nobody’s trying to grow claws or bond metal to their skeleton.”

“No but they have mixed animal DNA with plants just to see what happens.”   The voice counters.

“Yeah.” I agree, relenting on this point. “”But it was going to happen eventually.”

“Yes, but we made sure it happened at the right time.”  The voice comments.  “It’s what we do.”

“Sure you did.”  I chuckle.  “Like you’re not a manifestation of too much Pepsi and too little sleep cause by the time change this week.”

“Are you so sure?”  The voice asks.  “Maybe I’m from the future communicating to you through your own thoughts inside your mind.”

I take another sip of Pepsi.  “Right.  Uh-huh.  Sure you are.  And I’m the Flamenco King of Zaire.”

“I see the Theta waves are getting to you.”  The voice replies dryly.

“Theta waves. Yeah sure.”

The voice explains, “Theta waves are what we use to communicate across both time and space.  It’s how we can observe different species in different places at different moments in history without interfering with the timeline.”

“Ah.”  I comment, “The almighty ‘Time Directive’.  Just like in Star Trek.   But one thing.  You’re breaking that directive by talking to me.  In essence, you are changing the timeline.  That is, if you were real and not a figment of my imagination.  Overactive imagination.”

“Interesting that you would bring up Star Trek” The voice says. “The Star Trek era of exploration only happens after the population of Earth comes joins together over their political, economic, and religious differences.”

“Yeah.”  I counter. “But that only happens after a nuclear war and the influence of Vulcans.”

“Imagine what would happen if that unification never happened.”  The voice offers.  “What untold misery would it bring onto others?  Disease?  War? Genocide?  The wholesale slaughter done to innocents by the thoughtless acts of humans too immature to even conceive of the risks they pose just by stepping onto alien soil? Is this what you would have?”

My mouth tightens before I swig down more Pepsi.  “Dude.  Lighten up.  They’re just stories.”

“Yes they are.  But they can inspire people with degrees or dreams to build the platforms to leave without humanity being ready for it.  That is why you must stop before doing this.”

“Is this why you had Windows do an ungodly long service package to my computer tonight?  Because if that is so, it was not cool!  That damn thing took a half hour out of my writing time.  I hated that!”

The voice rises a little in my head; instinctively I know that’s the best it can do to yell.  “Listen!  If this goes forth, whole planets will die out including Earth.”

“Why would the Earth die?”  I ask.

“In retaliation to all the deaths and suffering  on other planets caused by humans.”  The voice replies.  “Surely you didn’t think our actions wouldn’t have consequences.”

I sit blankly at this.

The voice implores. “You must wait until humanity has evolved before sharing your ideas.  They must lay dormant for now.  Let your treasures lie buried until discovered at the proper time.”

I lean back in my chair and take a deep breath.

“Nah.”  I decide.  “I’m going to go through with this.  It’s going to be fun.  It would happen eventually anyway.   Besides you forgot the biggest Star Trek theory of all.  There is a dimension for every choice to be made or not made.  A dimension for when I turned left and one when I turned right.  For all I know this dimension is the one where I write these stories and nothing happens other than entertaining people.  Beside, for all I know, you’re just a creative play of words used to aid in me filling this story.”

My head is silent as I post this up to Word Press and go to bed.

Daniel’s Lion – Part Three

The trail wasn’t hard to find.  If anything, the climb back up the hill caused more effort; at least physically.  Daniel stared at the gaping hole of broken branches and flattened earth before him.  It was if a road to hell had been paved specifically just for him and that certain death waited at its end.  Shivering in the cold rain, Daniel hesitated.  A flash of light, followed closely by the clap of thunder, forced his decision.  Daniel hurried into the false shelter of the forest canopy.

“What are you doing?”  A voice whispered inside his head.

Daniel ignored it as he trudged his way forward.

“It’s just the mail.”  The voice continued.

“It’s my job.”  Daniel said aloud.

“Your job?”  Taunted the voice inside.  “You saw the telegraph poles being installed along the trail.  Your job won’t be here for long.  Maybe six months, if that.”

Daniel’s foot slipped on a loose rock.

“Damn it!”  He cursed aloud.

“Why go on?”  The voice continued.  “There’s nothing there.  You know the bear ate all the mail.”

“No I don’t.”  Daniel argued.  “It’s my responsibility.”

The branches grew lower as the path broke left and up the hillside.  Soft muddy soil slowly gave way to hard rocky ground.

The voice seemed to grow louder.  “Your responsibility?  You’re supposed to deliver the mail, not die for it.”

“There are important documents in there.”  Daniel thought.

“Sure there are.”  Said the voice.  “Love letters from politicians to their mistresses no doubt.”

Daniel grabbed a broken sapling trunk for support as he climbed higher.  “No.   There are contracts, payments, and deeds that need to be delivered.  People’s homesteads are at stake.”

Lightning flashed to reveal a cave roughly fifty yards away.  The drag trail of the horse’s body led right to it.  Daniel stood there and stared at the inky black abyss.

“Looks like you’re about to find out.”  The voice teased.

Daniel’s Lion – Part 2

Lightning lit up the sky followed by a loud clap of thunder.  Daniel’s steed bucked in response.

“Easy!  Easy.”  Daniel soothed, trying to calm the beast.  “Just some noise.  Ain’t nothin’ to be scared of.”

Steady streams of water flowed down the muddy hillside in miniature rivers as they struggled against the flow.  A second flash lit up the sky.

“Oh yeah.  We are right in the heart of it!”

Thunder roared so closely that the ground shook.  Daniel flew through the air as he felt the horse buck him off.

“God damn it!”  He yelled picking himself out of the muddy trail.

A piercing cry grabbed his attention.  Daniel’s eyes mirrored the horror of his horses as his mind relayed the true event.

His horse cried out again in a mix of pain and primal fear as it was dragged violently on its side.

“No!”  Daniel screamed while yanking his Colt from its holster; firing three shots in rapid succession.

A roar from behind the horse echoed the roar of the shots as a large paw clawed across Daniel’s shoulder and chest.  The force of the impact knocked him down the hill.

Daniel lay against the trunk of a large Pine, clutching at his shoulder as he heard his horses last muffled cry off in the distance.  The pain held him hostage and he sat there as the rain pelted him mercilessly.  Slowly, his mind and body reconnected.  The feeling of hot lava ran down his shoulder as his blood mixed with the mud on the ground.  Daniel’s good arm shook rapidly as he assessed the damage.

Five cuts dug deep into his shoulder, scraped his collar bone before continuing their journey diagonally across his chest fading to an end just above his belly.

With shallow breaths, Daniel struggled to take off the scraps of cloth that was his coat and shirt.  Useless and heavy, he let the coat fall to the ground.  His hand shook rapidly as unbuttoned the few buttons on his shirt.  He screamed in agony as his body twisted while trying to take off the shirt.  Failing at the effort, Daniel took out his knife and tore at the fabric until his injuries were free and exposed.  Using his knees and teeth, he cut the fabric into smaller pieces and let the rain wash over them.  He then bound his wounds as best as he could before trussing his left arm up with a mix of ticks and cloth. Daniel cried out again as he slid his arm into the sling.  Sweating from the effort, he paused for a moment then struggled to his feet on wobbly legs.  Slowly Daniel made his way back to where he last saw his horse.  Nothing was left but a large mark where the bear had dragged the body away.  Daniel walked around the area, looking at the muddy ground.  After what seemed an eternity, he stopped near a large puddle.  He dug his hand into the soft mud and pulled out his revolver.  Wet and filthy, he pulled the hammer back until he heard two clicks.  Spinning the cylinder, he counted the primer caps.  One.  Two. Three.  Three rounds were left.  His reloading powder was gone and the powder in the gun was questionable at best.  Silently, Daniel set the gun back into its holster.

There was nothing for it.  Daniel looked up at the sky and with a deep breath; he started his walk down the drag.  He had to find his horse, or what was left of it.

Trick or treat

“What sort of costume is that?”  Lucy scowled under her green makeup.

Charlie stood motionless as Lucy stomped around, inspecting him.

“There’s no chains!”  She pointed.  “There’s no scars. No bones, no skull, no grey rotting flesh.”

Making another circle, Lucy continued her verbal assault.  “Where are the ragged edges? Where are the tatters and tears? All I see are all these holes.”

Raising her arms in disgust, Lucy proclaimed, “Charlie Brown you are the worst ghost ever!”

Charlie simmered silently under his holey sheet.

“Well?”  Lucy challenged.   “What do you have to say for yourself?”

Charlie Brown leaned squarely into her face.  “Boo.”

For the Trifecta Challenge where the word of the day is Boo:  (verb) to show dislike or disapproval of someone or something by shouting “Boo” slowly