The Dream Weavers of Druin

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Candlelight danced across the walls of the cavern, sending long shadows scurrying across its enormous length.  

The Dream Weavers of ancient Druin were chanting and swaying in unison. Their high voices, shrill and clear, reverberated off the sandstone walls.

Once in the chronicles of mankind, there was a great city in Egypt called Druin.

It was located in Keme (what the Egyptians called their country), and was the home of the Dream Weavers when mankind was still wearing animal skins and learning about the properties of fire.

They interpreted people’s dreams, and gave them dreams of hope. They were also known for giving good advise on any subject. They lived in perfect harmony with man and nature. Their engineering skills were far beyond any earthling’s ability.

No one knew where they came from. The ancient texts disagree on a couple of possibilities. The prevailing consensus was the Dream Weavers were from the stars.

Unfortunately, Druin was destroyed by warring armies during the dawn of two great civilizations; the Egyptians and the Hittites out of Asia minor.

The survivors were forced to go underground into a series of caves located beneath the ruins. It wasn’t long before the desert claimed the ruins, leaving mounds of sand where great towers once stood.

But myths and legends kept the story of the Dream Weavers alive. Ancient Egyptian scholars called them gods. Wise men from around the world devoted their lives to searching for the ancient city of Druin.

November 9th, 2024

Alexandria, Egypt

Aatami Emam, was a 45-year old scholar who devoted years to researching the Dream Weavers, and the ancient city of Druin. As a member of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, he was in the perfect place to combine work, and his own personal goals.

Discovering Druin was the main goal in life. He had a good reason too.

He lived in troubled times. The first nuclear strikes wiped out North Korea, Guam, and Osaka, Japan. More followed as Russia, China, The United States, Iran, and Israel, launched their nukes.

Although a worldwide truce was currently called, there were no guarantees that hostilities wouldn’t suddenly flare up again. The punishment to the planet and millions of people was profound and permanent.

Aatami knew his chances of finding Druin were slim. Hundreds tried before him. Even if he discovered Druin that didn’t mean he’d find a way to contact the Dream Weavers who he prayed were still around.

There was no other way he could help mankind. Then, the answer came to him in a dream.

He saw the way to Druin, and when he got there he woke up the sleeping Dream Weavers! His dream was so real that he thought it actually happened. The next morning he started packing and called a Turkish friend, Iskander,  who was a guide for archeological digs.

It took three days to get to the right spot in Iskander’s land rover. By noon of the fourth day they discovered, just beneath the surface, the ruins of Druin.

“Did you bring the sticks of dynamite?” Aatami asked Iskander.

“I did effendi, although I must tell you they weren’t easy to get,” he replied.

From a safe distance, they watched as the earth rose momentarily in a mighty shower of sand. A gaping hole was revealed when the sand finally settled back down.

Both men were veteran adventurers. This wasn’t the first time they went in search of something. They tied ropes to the land rover and skillfully repelled down the opening.

There was shards of mosaic tile on the ground. Ignoring them, Aatami went straight for a partly uncovered statue of a bearded man from the waist up. Just like in his dream. He approached it reverently and touched the torch in the man’s hand.

The sandstone walls started to rumble and the men were scared for their lives. When it the earth stopped shaking, an opening on one side of the hole was revealed. A cave. Pulling out their flashlights, they went inside.

Hours later, they came to a larger cavern and saw three rows of sixty men sitting on thrones. Apparently asleep. They were perfectly preserved. They wore silk robes that were combinations of every color in the rainbow.

“Now we wait,” Aatami said, as he sat down. They soon fell asleep.

In the two men’s dreams they saw the Dream Weavers rise from their thrones chanting something in a shrill long-forgotten language.

The next morning when they woke up, they felt hopeful about things in general.

Aatami’s gift from the Dream Weavers was the ability to bring peace wherever he went. He was also granted the power to give healing dreams to people suffering, and to interrupt their dreams.

Iskander’s gift was the ability to solve any engineering challenges while staying at Aatami’s side as his defender.

As instructed, they hurried back to the land rover and didn’t look back when the desert dramatically engulfed the hole.

As It Stands, my variation of a dystopian future…but with hope.

The Outcast’s Fate

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He was cast from the planet Paradise because he questioned the authority of the Fifthe Lords.

Ohlan had dared to ask questions about other planets and civilizations, infuriating the Fifthe Lords who preached they were the only truly intelligent beings in six galaxies.

Other planets were considered to be stocked with inferior beings and cultures. The idea of mingling with inferior beings was not only repugnant, but could cause disunity among the Fifthe people who considered themselves gods.

They were immortal. No other species in six galaxies could make that claim. Their laws were rigid, formed before the dawn of other civilizations. But Ohlan defied the law when he secretly visited the Milky Way galaxy.

He wanted to see, first hand, the young planets and their inhabitants. The Fifthe Lords, already suspicious of Ohlan’s intentions, caught him in the act of visiting Saturn. It was enough to get him banned forever.

He could never came back to Paradise or the Gron Galaxy. His name was struck from the Hall of Records and his family were no longer allowed to say his name. Ohlan was banned to the primitive planet Earth.

His ability to transport to other solar systems was gone. He was taken to a vast desert on earth where there were little signs of life, and unceremoniously dumped without food or supplies.

Because he was immortal he wouldn’t die in the desert, but would be tortured by the blazing sun, hunger, and thirst.

Like all the residents of Paradise, Ohlan was a shape-shifter, and had the ability to take on any appearance he wanted. A caravan of camels and men came over a dune and approached Ohlan, who quickly morphed into the shape of a human.

The caravan halted a hundred yards away and the leader rode out alone to investigate why a man was standing naked in the middle of the desert. As he approached he could see Ohlan’s blistering skin.

“Greetings stranger!” the caravan leader called out as he drew near to Ohlan.

“What sad twist of fate has left you in such a bad condition brother?”

Ohlan had no idea what the earthling was saying. He studied his body language instead.

“Awww…I see. You do not speak our tongue. Enough questions then. Come with me, and I will clothe and feed you.”

The caravan leader nudged the camel who squatted down and allowed him to get off. Holding the reins, he gestured toward the caravan in the distance and indicated that Ohlan should follow him.

Two months later the caravan safely arrived in the city of Jerusalem. During the trip, Ohlan quickly learned to speak their language. The traders shared their history over camp fires, and potent barley beer.

But Ohlan didn’t stay there. His lust for travel drove him on. When he arrived in Egypt he was thrilled to see man-made crude giant mounds. He sought out the leaders of Giza and used his superior intelligence to teach them building techniques.

He watched proudly, as the Khufu Pyramid was built with the techniques he taught their engineers. It took the name Inhotep, and spent his time talking with Egyptian scholars and priests.

But the day came when Ohlan had the wanderlust again. He traveled to the Americas and spent time in Peru. He witnessed the ascension of the Moche people after the gradual demise of the Chavin culture.

Once again, he shared building secrets and other arts with the leaders and wise men.  He guided them in the construction of two giant structures, known thereafter as the Temple of the Sun (Huaca del Sol), and the Temple of the Moon (Huaca de la Luna).

As the centuries came and went, Ohlan moved from one culture to the next, sharing knowledge. In the annuals of time and earth history, he became known as The Traveler.

In fact however, he was just an outcast.

As It Stands, I like to explore what happens to individuals who go against the common norms.

The Curse of the Orionian Diamond

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From the Chronicles of Zartam

“And there was a great Lord who processed the biggest, most beautiful, diamond in the Milky Way solar system.

It came to pass that a warlord in the dune fields of Auroe heard about the famous diamond and lusted for it.

Rek Thronebolt, the ruler of the dunes of Auroe, gathered up other warlords from the wasted lands of Gattis and the forests of Turon. He promised them riches and slaves from the wealthy kingdom of Zan, whose king Zartam was rumoured to be getting old and weak.

The great war that followed ended in a deadly draw, as most of the participants were killed. Only a few stragglers from each side survived. Among them was King Zartam’s daughter, Zetrina, who pocessed the Orionian diamond.

She was a high priestess of Parek, a magical cult that worshipped truth and honesty. As such, she put a curse upon the diamond if a cheat or a liar tried to take it. Zetrina and three other priestess died a year later.

Hundreds of years passed, erasing the site of King Zartam’s castle under the shifting sands as the dune fields expanded.”

Transcribed by Lut Nore

On the Second Day of Hatar, 33098

Dar En Sun, Hyperion – One of 62 Moons surrounding Saturn

“Be careful how you handle that Actinolite Cat’s Eye necklace. It’s made from a rare gem from Earth, you dolts!”  the Museum’s curator, Nar Feh, grumbled.

He was running out of time. The intergalatic exhibition of rare and precious gems of the Milky Way, was coming to Oberon, the second largest moon orbiting Uranus. There were only three more zorts left, and he still didn’t have the Orionion Diamond.

It was slated to be the crown jewel of the show. Backers from two solar systems were financing the exhibition. They expected to see the Orionion Diamond. As a matter of fact, it was in the contract.

Nar Feh’s collection featured a brilliant assortment of gems from Actinolite Cat’s Eyes from Earth; Yellow Geodes from Neptune; Green Amethysts from Venus; Andalusite from Mercury with it’s changing colors; Dense Cassiterite from Uranus; Golden Chrysocolla from Jupiter; Stunning Blue Sapphires from Saturn; and Purple Rubies from Mars.

But thus far, no Orionian Diamond from Hyperion. The main attraction. All of Nar Feh’s hope was resting on the team he hired to get the fabled diamond.

The team from Mercury consisted of six people. All, but one, were experts on precious gems and minerals in three solar systems. Their combined education would fill the Great Library of Hroth Hor on Jupiter.

The sixth member, Dar Ben Toca, a famous jewel thief and noted adventurer in jail, was granted amnesty when he agreed to work with the team to locate the Orionion Diamond. Someone had put up a lot of xelks to pull that off.

The mission had to be completed before 12 zorts passed.

Hyperion was windy and cold year round. No living thing appeared to be left. The team, packing pounds of equipment, trudged through wastelands that were once fertile fields, and forests of colorful hard wood for nine zorts.

If it wasn’t for the discovery of the Chronicles of Zartam by the Hyperion scribe, Lut Nore, no one would have ever known about the great diamond, or the Kingdom of Zan. The moon’s history would have remained forever lost under the shifting sands of time.

Hyperion.

Tempers were getting short in the main tent one night. The five experts were busy blaming each other for their failure to locate the lost kingdom of Zan. Each had a vision of glory. Each dreamt of untold wealth and fame.

Alone, in his small tent, Dar Ben Toca took another hit off his pipe. The ingredient was a plant from Pluto, a weed with the wonderful power to ease a person’s mind from daily struggles.

Setting the long pipe down, he crawled out of the tent and stood up. The night sky was filled with stars glittering like diamonds. A shooting star streaked across the heavens. He walked away from the camp’s bright lights coming from the main tent.

It took a few moments to adjust his eyes to the difference in lighting. When he did, he was surprised to see what appeared to be a square rock sticking out from a sandy mound.

As he got closer he realized the mound was higher than he thought. Getting down on his knees, Dar Ben Toca started digging with his hands. In a short time it became obvious that he had discovered something important.

He had mixed reactions about his discovery. On one hand, he still had to go back to prison. His reward was getting 52 zorts off his 499 zort sentence. On the other hand, he could take his chances and grab some supplies and take off.

He might not survive long, but at least he would die free. The problem was he did swear an oath that he would return. He went back to his tent and curled up with his pipe. He’d sleep on it.

The next day, Dar Ben Toca led the team to the spot he’d discovered. After setting up the extraction loaders, and activating two robot diggers, they all watched as the fabled castle wall was slowly revealed!

Within a short time the diggers had made it to the ground floor of the castle and were clearing out rooms. The team watched the process until it got dark. When they got up the next day a path had been cleared for exploration.

It was the team leader, Kor Kar, who discovered the Orionian Diamond in a great tomb in the castle’s bowels. It sat on a stand designed to display it. The stand was next to alabaster coffin containing the body of the high preistess Zetrina.

When the whole team assembled in the room, Kor Kar made a short speech applauding their efforts. Then he turned to the diamond, which was the size of a normal earthling’s head, and reached out for it…

The team gasped in unison when Kor Kar’s face turned black, his eyes rolled back, and he made small mewling noises before dropping to the ground like a sack of Martian red roots.

The curse!” someone screamed.

“It can’t be!” someone else claimed. “There are no curses!”

“Then what was that!” another hysterical voice asked.

Finding the diamond was one challenge. Getting the diamond back to the museum was another.

What are we going to do” one of the team members asked. “Aren’t any of us honest enough to pick this diamond up?”

That’s when Dar Ben Toca saw his chance to get a better deal. Maybe even his freedom.

“I’ll do it. But I need you all to speak up for me.”

Four heads nodded up and down in agreement. Anything to complete their mission.

When Dar Ben Toca held the heavy diamond in his arms he knew his life was going to get better.

As It Stands, truth often comes in strange packages.

Treasure Hunters of the Cigar Galaxy

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Qureen Valley, Aesay

Cigar Galaxy

Otsee watched his hulking associate dig into the hard soil of Aesay.

After four hours he had barely scratched the surface, only getting down a foot.

The blazing sun overhead was burning their pale skins. Otsee pulled his floppy hat down over his three eyes. He set the map down that he was studying, and picked up a whisp pod and drank thirstily from it’s short tube.

Lurma!” he called out, “Come have a drink.”

The big Antolan dropped his shovel and slowly walked over to where Otsee had set up camp. At seven feet-tall and weighing over 500-pounds he was fearsome to look at. The tusks protruding out of his mouth added to the impression.

“Lurma thirsty” he rumbled, as Otsee handed him two whisp pods.

“Something isn’t right,” Otsee said. “This ground is much harder than we were told. It’ll take forever to dig down 30 feet. We only have 10 hours before Pike and his band of cutthroat renegades gets here.”

Lurma looked at him with his one big blue eye and asked, “Trouble?” 

Otsee looked at the giant and wondered – for the thousandth time – how the two became friends? He was only five-feet tall and slender, barely weighing 120 pounds. He was from a different planet – Jura. Otsee was from Yegoh, a dwarf moon circling Jura.

He was an accomplished archeologist who had a license to search the Cigar Galaxy for treasures. Lurma had no formal learning and was simple by most standards. He made up for it with his humor, honesty, and loyalty.

After a hundred years, the memory plays tricks, reasoned Otsee. It wasn’t important anyway when they became friends. The important thing was they were best friends now. Lurma was a gentle giant most of the time.

When Otsee bought the map from an old space pirate (a longtime enemy of Pike) he was warned there was another one just like it. His connections, he told Otsee, said that Pike had the other one, and was collecting a crew.

Pike had much further to go than Otsee. Even with a two-day start, Otsee knew he could get there first. The old space pirate said it was a matter of digging a deep hole and they’d find the stolen gems from fabled Usteria.

Now, with time running out, Otsee knew he had to come up with another plan.

“We’re going to let them find the gems!,” Otsee blurted out.

Lumar’s brow furrowed, a sign that he didn’t understand.

“We’ll let them dig that hole. When they have it, we’ll get it from them. My license also comes with the power to make a private arrest in the case of pirates like Pike.”

Lumar, seeing Ostee’s face light up with hope grinned happily.

“C’mon Lumar! We need to move our ship before they get here.”

The next day, Pike’s crew of nine were busy setting up a metal apparatus where Lumar had been digging. Pike noticed the shallow hole while his men were working. His animal instinct told him it could mean trouble.

He sent out a three-man patrol to see if anyone else was nearby. Pike was satisfied when they came back at dusk and reported that they couldn’t find anyone. The apparatus would be finished by tomorrow.

During the night, Otsee and Lumar finished hiking back to the treasure site. It was a grueling 24-hour hike and they were both tired. Otsee set the alarm on his wrist as they took shelter in the nearby hill.

The noise – a high squeal – came from the electromagnetic pulse drill as it burrowed into the hard soil. It woke Ostee and Lumar up.

They watched all morning as the drill did its work. Finally the drill came up and stayed. In its place, a recovery robot, attached by a thick cable, was lowered down the gaping hole.

Pike and his crew cheered when they brought the robot up and it was clutching a four foot wide metal box inscribed in Usterian text. The robot set it down gently next to Pike. The crew eagerly gathered around the box.

When Pike opened the box, a toxic green cloud billowed out and enveloped them. Pike and the crew staggered around until, one-by-one, each crumbled to the ground, dying.

Ostee and Lumar watched in horror. It was the last thing either expected to see. They kept watching as the bodies thrashed around in their final death throes. The green mist sunk back into the box. Then a blazing blue beacon of light shot out of the box, piercing the stars in space.

Almost instantly, two beings appeared. One put its long arms up over its head and the box rose into the air. Then the box floated over to the hole. Quicker than Lumar could blink his eye, the box descended into the hole.

The other being pointed at the drill, the camp site, the bodies, and the ship. They all crumbled into dust. Both beings stepped back into the blue light.

After they were gone Ostee looked at Lumar and shook his head. That could have been them if they had succeeded in getting to the box first.

“Lumar, my friend, I think it’s time we try another profession. Like growing whisp pods on Yegoh.” 

As It Stands, like the man says, “…you gotta know when to play, and when to fold.”

Marooned on Mars

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It was a scientific mission gone wrong.

The crew of the Planet Chaser, a research ship from Venus, were supposed to spend a week on Mars to determine if there were any resources there that would benefit their planet.

The Institute of Exploration funded the mission.

But there was a problem with the ships landing software, and it crashed near the site of Olympus Mons, the largest volcano on Mars, and the second-highest known mountain in the solar system.

The only survivor, a scientist named Hei Manz, lay in the rubble for two days before he had enough strength to move around. Luckily for him, Mars thin atmosphere was very similar to Venus.

It took Hei a month to build a shelter near the wreck using salvageable materials. He saved what was left of the portable lab designed to let researchers conduct experiments in the field.

There was enough food and water for a crew of twelve for seven days. It was sealed in metal drums that he rolled over to his camp site. It got harder everyday to go back into the ship, where his comrades were rotting.

One of the challenges Hei faced was that he wasn’t an engineer or computer expert. The chances of putting together a device to seek help were as thin as the atmosphere. He was a scientist who studied the make-up of planets. Nothing more, nothing less.

His biggest challenge was that he only had 84 days worth of food and water.

One day he was testing the soil and discovered it had an alkaline pH and contained magnesium, sodium, potassium, and chloride. His first kernel of hope was when he found that the soil nutrients could support life.

As he studied Mar’s two moons, Phobos and Deimos, that night, he decided that his only hope was to try to find life – despite the risks that entailed. He might have a chance if there were intelligent beings living under the reddish iron oxide surface.

Forty days later he was pulling a crude cart through one of the largest canyons in the solar system; Valles Marineris, with the last of his food and supplies. It was one of the many areas Venusian scientists had mapped out on Mars prior to the mission.

It was hard trying to stay positive when he knew the odds were against him. He dreamt of home and his family. He wasn’t married, but came from a family of nine siblings who were all very close.

He was never alone growing up. Being alone was not something he ever thought about. Between family and friends, he was fortunate not to have had to experience complete isolation.

He began talking to himself out loud after two weeks of mind-numbing travel.

“What will you do if you find a dangerous species that wants to kill you?” he asked himself.

“There’s nothing I can do. I don’t have a weapon,” he petulantly answered. “Scientists don’t need weapons!” he shouted out to the craters, jagged rocks and hills surrounding him.

Eighteen days after running out of food and water, Hei was still walking. The cart was gone. He lost his hat somewhere, and his bald head was burnt to the color of the soil.

Then he saw three Venusian marines on a hill coming towards him! Rescuers! His luck held up! He couldn’t wait to get home and tell everyone his story.

It took the Venusian government weeks to get approval to send a military ship to see what happened to the crew of the Planet Chaser. When the marines landed on Mars they quickly went to the site of the wreck.

The strong winds blew away Hei’s tracks. The marines split up into groups of three and fanned out in all directions. On the 122nd day they found Hei. He was reclining on his side, and despite being exposed to the elements, there was a smile on his face.

The marines took his body home.

As It Stands, I have often wondered how I would handle being marooned on an island.

It’s War! Jupiter’s Moons Defy Jupiter

0dba81d0b70827838d0e6e873da589f6Leaders from 12 of the 67 moons of Jupiter gathered for an emergency meeting. The tension was palpable.

Less than 24-hours ago, three moons; Pallene, Fenrir, and Sinope, were attacked, and overcome, by military forces from the Planet Jupiter.

It came as a complete surprise. No one had ever violated the Treaty of Ganymede since it was signed by Jupiter, and the free 12 Moon Confederation, two centuries ago.

The 12 moons were, Ganymede, Callisto, Lo, Europa, Himalia, Pasiphae, Almalthea, Thebe, Alara, Metis, Leda, and Tayget. The rest of the moons were either uninhabited, or had crude and dangerous creatures that lived primitive lives in harsh conditions.

“Have you heard anything from the attackers yet General?” the Prime Minister of Europa asked.

“No, sir. The Confederation is on high alert. Our hyperlink line of defense in-between moons has been activated.” 

 “Why Pallene, Fenrir, and Sinope? They’re small, and barely inhabited?” Tayget’s President asked.

“I think they were making a statement Mr. President. It was more like a training exercise that they wanted us to see. I’m not sure why…”

A courier ran into the vast room where they were gathered around a round table.

“A message from Jupiter!” He pointed up at the giant monitor overhead.

“Greetings! I’m the new ruler of Jupiter… Cin Dak!”

“I don’t understand…” the Prime Minister of Thebe said. “Jupiter has many rulers.” 

“No longer,” Cin Dak gloated.

“What of the Treaty of Ganymede?” asked the Prime Minister of Metis.

“It’s a new world. Mine! I don’t make treaties. I conquer. Whoever dares to stand up to me will die. I’ll give you 24-hours to pledge your allegiance to me, or my forces will attack.” 

The monitor went dark.

The Warlord of Ganymede stood up and shouted over the din of excited voices, “Friends and allies! Let me speak!”

“This new ruler doesn’t know anything about our defenses, and very little about our technologies. Two hundred years is a long time. The first reports I got from scouts after the attacks was that the technology they used didn’t suggest the same sophistication as ours.”

400 years later…

The old scribe gathered his students together for another lesson on the War Between The Planet and the Moons. He paused for a moment, and looked up at the tattered flag of Ganymede flying on a barren tree nearby.

“All right children! What’s the Book of Common Sense say?”

“No one wins in a war!” they roared.

As It Stands, wars are never started for a good reason, and they always end badly for the innocent.

A Plan Of Disarray Kept The Martians Away

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Listen to this story as narrated by master story teller Otis Jiry.

2088 Earth

Day 19 of the Martian invasion

Major Eric Hammer is passing out weapons to the survivors of the New York City massacre.

That’s what it was.

The Martians agreed to parley with the current American leader, former Speaker-of-the-House, Josh Angler, at Times Square. His predecessors were all killed during the first wave of the invasion.

The Martian Warlord, Nin-el Throth, who was in charge of the invasion fleet, stood in front of his spacecraft in the middle of Times-Square, waiting for the American leader to appear.

What onlookers didn’t know was that it was a hologram of the infamous warlord, and the spacecraft was really a remote-controlled bomb. When Josh Angler appeared the bomb blew up!

In that moment, eighty percent of the inhabitants of New York were vaporized.

Major Hammer, one of the survivors, spent months searching for other survivors. He found them in cellars, and under the debris of flattened buildings – sealed in, and barely alive.

The New York Skyline no longer existed.

In the center of the gutted city a Martian Battlewagon acted as a temporary headquarters. It stood 10 stories high and looked like a metal insect with an attitude. It housed over five hundred Martian fighters.

During his time searching for other survivors, Major Hammer studied his enemies. He watched their tactics and took notes. They patrolled in groups of ten. Surprisingly, they walked, and didn’t use transportation devices.

One day he watched a lone unkown sniper shoot four Martians before their fired back and killed him. He wished he would have found that sniper before he went solo. But he learned a valuable lesson, the Martians could be killed with conventional weapons like rifles.

It took a long time to train the growing group of survivors in urban warfare. Handing a person a weapon doesn’t mean they’re going to be effective with it. That takes time and patience.

He was one of only three survivors who was trained in warfare and weapons. The other two were recruitment officers that were waiting for retirement. The civilians brought other skills that helped hold the group of 145 together.

Constant scavenger parties collected food and other supplies and delivered them to their headquarters underground. They set up living quarters in forgotten old train tunnels below the subway system.

The time finally came when Major Hammer felt his ragtag army was ready to wage guerrilla warfare against the Martians. He’d discovered an armory stocked with weapons and ammunition and supplied his fighters with everything from hand grenades to assault rifles.

Hiding in the rubble of the Empire State building, Major Hammer’s raiders waited for the first patrol to pass by. The Martians confidently walked past the rubble. All ten were instantly cut down in a hail of gunfire and grenades!

Following Major Hammer’s lead, the ten raiders raced back to headquarters and waited to see what would happen. There was no retaliation. The Martians were unable to locate their attackers.

The raiding party waited for three days, and went back out and slaughtered another patrol before they knew what hit them. They attackers faded away like ghosts. The Martian Army Commander withered under Warlord Nin-el Throth’s anger, as he shouted at him from the main monitor on the officer’s deck.

Patrols were doubled. The attacks doubled too. Morale among the Martian’s was starting to erode. What once started as routine patrols were now considered combat missions. Worse, their enemies seemed to be invisible.

They knew humans were behind the attacks even though they didn’t have one body to prove it.

After attacking the second Martian patrol in one day, Major Hammer’s men captured one of the aliens. Using the same voice language software that allowed humans to talk with Martians, and vice versa, they questioned the captive.

After being tortured, the Martian spilled the beans about a major attack that was coming the next day. The Martians were going to launch an all out attack. Apparently a scouting party located human movement underground with ground penetrating radar.

They knew the general area to look in. Major Hammer gathered all of the men and women and told them what was going to happen the next day.

“This is it!” he told them. “We’re leaving now. Gather your gear and follow me.”

It took all night for Major Hammer’s raiders to reach the Martian Battlewagon. They took up positions of concealment and waited for the sun to come up. A slight drizzle coated the fractured roads and the rubble that use to be a busy city.

The Martians exited the Battlewagon shortly after the sun tried to peek out from behind the gathering storm clouds. The entire attack force filed out in neat formations. Major Hammer’s raiders waited until they were out of sight.

This was the moment of truth. In exchange for his life, the Martian captive agreed to approach the ship and seek entry. Tense moments passed before the massive ramp came down.

At that moment, the raiders ran up it and spread out, killing Martians wherever they found them. It took an hour before they had control of the ship. They brought wooden crates of dynamite with them and set time delay charges throughout the Battlewagon.

The commander of the Martian task force was the first to realize something was wrong when he heard the massive explosion that went on for several minutes. His fear was realized when a scout he sent out reported back with the news the battlewagon was blown to pieces!

The Martian Army commander was left with one choice; set up a perimeter, and prepare to die.

As It Stands, I enjoy writing stories of humans fighting back against superior alien forces. Win some, lose some. You never know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dreams for Sale

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The piece of paper on the bulletin board in Woolworth’s said, “Dreams For Sale – 212-2641-0977.”

Alfred Oates blinked through his thick glasses and took his new Reynolds Rocket ballpoint pen out of his jacket pocket.

He carefully wrote the phone number down in a little notepad he kept in his other jacket pocket.

The year was 1947, and America was bursting with opportunities for clever men and women. Good jobs were available all over the country. Everyone was making money, one way, or the other.

Alfred made a lot of money, but had a peculiar problem. He couldn’t dream. He abruptly stopped dreaming when he became a teenager. Since then, he read everything he could find about his problem. There was precious little on the subject.

He wasn’t sure why he bothered writing the phone number down. It was probably some con man. But he had to admit, it was a clever way to get someone’s attention. He lit a Cuban cigar and leisurely strolled down the street until he came to the brownstone he was living in.

A black doorman in a tuxedo greeted him with a smile and opened the door. He walked into the luxurious lobby and headed straight for the front desk to get his mail. There were two letters. He took them with him, and went up the elevator to his room.

When he got to his room he put his ear on the door for a moment then inserted the key. He could never be too cautious in his line of work. The elegantly appointed room had a small desk and chair near the large picture window.

The first letter was from his brother who stayed in the Army after the war and was stationed in Germany. The second letter was business.

He memorized a street address in Manhattan, and carried a small black-and-white photo of a well-dressed young man in his shirt pocket. His hat was tilted slightly forward in the photo and made him look dashing.

Alfred went to his hotel’s parking lot and got the keys to his brand new 1947 Blue Hudson from the attendant. There was always someone on duty 24-hours a day to watch over the expensive cars.

It took nearly a pack of cigarettes and six hours before the man in the photo showed up. As the man approached the front door of his hotel Alfred got out of his car, screwed the silencer on his pistol, pulled up a handkerchief to cover the lower part of his face, and walked up to him as the doorman was greeting him.

Two quick shots to the head instantly killed the man. The doorman was spared. He shrieked with horror, as Alfred calmly walked away. Contract filled. He walked for a few blocks then turned around and took a different route to his car.

When he got back to his place he used the phone in the lobby to call the mysterious phone number.

Hello,” the deep baritone voice said.

“Hi. I’m interested in buying dreams. I saw your ad.”

“My room is located in Harlem. It’s in the Historic Harlem Duplex down the street from Columbia University. When would you like an appointment?”

“Yeah…sure.”

“Are you busy tomorrow?”

“I could work a time out,” Alfred said.

“Go to Room 13, at 1:00 o’clock.”

Alfred got a dial tone before he could agree with the time. As he left the ornate phone booth he felt silly. How could he logically think someone could sell dreams? If nothing else he’d whack the quack for trying to fool him.

The door opened after the third knock. A tall skeletal looking black man in a three-piece suit greeted him, “Good Day, Mr. Oates! Please come in.”

“Odd,” Alfred thought when he looked around the room. There was only a large desk and two heavily padded chairs. One behind the desk, and the other in front of it. Where was the bed he wondered?

“Please…have a seat,” the tall man urged him. Alfred sunk into the padded chair while studying the man as he went over to the other chair.

My name is Moses Gardener. I sell dreams. Been doing it for a long time. You are probably thinking I’m a fake trying to take advantage of you. Don’t worry, I deliver the goods.”

Moses opened a drawer and took out a small bottle made out of purple glass. He sat it down on the desk between them. Alfred’s eyes were riveted to the little flashes of light it emitted.

Carefully, Moses pulled the stopper out and tilted the bottle until a single round yellow pill came out. He laid it down in front of Alfred and closed the bottle.

“Because you’re a new customer, I’ll only charge you half of what I normally charge; one hundred dollars.”

“What guarantee do I have this pill will work? Your asking for a lot of money.”

“You know where to find me Mr. Oates. Take it, or leave it.”

Alfred paid him.

“Make sure to take it when your tired and ready to go to sleep. This is not a sleeping pill,” Moses advised.

Alfred sat on the edge of his bed and looked at the pill. Once again he wondered if this was worth it? What if the pill was poison? Then Moses wouldn’t have to worry about getting a visit from him.

Suddenly he didn’t care. He had no family. No friends. He really wanted to dream again. Closing his eyes he popped the pill into his mouth and chased it down with a shot of expensive bourbon.

When the dreams came they were convoluted. Faces flashed by. He was a boy again playing baseball in a dirty sand lot. Swimming in a pool. Playing stick ball in the streets. Falling in love with his 5th grade teacher.

The next morning Alfred woke up with a sense of sadness. He wanted the dream to continue. After getting dressed for the day and eating breakfast he called Moses.

“That’ll be two hundred dollars,” Moses said as he pulled the purple bottle out of the desk drawer.

“How do you do it? Where do you get these pills? I sure wouldn’t mind in investing in them,” Alfred said, as he peeled two one-hundred dollar bills out of his wallet.

“It’s a family recipe,” Moses answered.

Alfred hurried back to his place, eager for the night to fall. This time he didn’t hesitate to pop the pill.

His dream started out with his first kill. The owner of a restaurant who owed money to the mob. He saw the man’s shocked look as he shot him. But instead of falling down, the man grinned at him. His sharp white teeth gleamed with an unnatural light!

Then a crying woman appeared. Pleading for her life as he leveled his gun at her. Children were crying for their murdered parents. Blood ran down the walls in his bedroom.

He couldn’t wake up. He knew he was asleep. That knowledge terrified him. Two men suddenly attacked him with billy clubs! He felt the blows and the pain shocked him. Then he was stumbling around in a graveyard, and saw a headstone with his name on it.

When he mercifully woke up the next morning he was trembling, sweaty, and angry. Moses didn’t say anything about nightmares. He wanted his money back.

But Moses wasn’t there. The hotel staff said there was no room number 13. It was an unlucky number. Didn’t he know that?

That night, to his utter horror, the dreams came back and most of them were bad.

As It Stands, there’s a fine line between dreams and nightmares.

New Intergalactic Circus Causes Controversy

 

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Staros – Andromeda Galaxy

Stian Field Grounds

“Step right up folks! See your first circus featuring wild and exotic species from the Milky Way.”

The long line moved smoothly. Families brought their children with them to witness the amazing sights. The atmosphere was full of excitement as Staroians swapped stories about some of the creatures that were going to be on display.

Publicity for the major event was heavy with side bar stories about the species that were being featured.

Opening day was the culmination of two years of searching for specimens throughout the Milky Way. With the guidance of trainers, the collected species were taught to do amusing things.

The circus was owned by Cosmic Entertainment, the largest entertainment corporation on Staros. The ringmaster, Sen-Set Hak, was the son of one of the owners. It was his job to put the show together.

As the audience swelled under the massive Big Top tent, a group of clowns from Pluto scampered around the center ring on all five legs, to the delight of the growing audience.

Two huge, and hairy three-legged Donarts from Venus were being led around the ring by a tall thin Venusian. He snapped his whip now and then for dramatic effect. His glittering green costume reflected light like a mirror.

Sen-Set Hak stood proudly in the center of the chaos. His bulky 15-foot frame was covered in colored gems that made his jacket and trousers glitter brightly. His top hat, made from the coat of a local mammal, was black with a golden band.

After the seats were full, dramatic music blared from hundreds of speakers. Sen-Set raised all three arms, calling for silence. The music abruptly stopped. The audience followed and waited silently.

“Welcome! Today you’re going to see sights you never imagined. Rare and exotic specimens from throughout the Milky Way are here today…just for your entertainment!”

The crowd roared approvingly.

“Allow me to introduce the Saturn Marching Band, featuring the planet’s best musicians!”

A tent flap opened and tiny musicians scurried out in unison. The tallest was two-feet high, and was the band leader. The little troupe paraded around the main ring in bright yellow costumes playing catchy tunes.

Suddenly two saber-toothed tigers from Neptune’s largest forest, ran into the tent and chased the band members around for a few minutes before their trainer called them off. The terrified band members scuttled out to roars of laughter from the audience.

Another tent flap was peeled back and four circus helpers pulled out a large cage made of a see-through material found in the mines of Mercury. Inside were two Martian warriors armed with crude wooden clubs.

Sen-set gave a signal and the two combatants went at it like honey-badgers from Earth. They were evenly matched. Both were six-feet tall with long brawny arms and short thick legs.

Their heads, which looked too small in comparison with the rest of their body, were covered in black hoods so they couldn’t see. Their fierce shouts and screams of pain entranced the audience.

The fight ended suddenly when one of them could no longer stand. The victor silently stood and waited for the audience expectedly.

A voice from the seats cried out, “Kill him!” Then someone else chimed in, “Kill him!” Soon, almost half of the audience was calling for the defeated Martian’s death. The victor took his hood off and obliged by smashing his opponent’s head in.

The blood stained cage was quickly wheeled out during the pandemonium in the seats. People were crying out that it was wrong to watch two species kill each other! Others said it was entertaining.

In the midst of the chaos a tent flap was pulled aside and a group of a dozen Earthlings charged out into the center arena where they did cartwheels and other physical tricks.

“For your pleasure,” Sen-Set shouted over the loud speakers, effectively ending the momentary controversy in the stands, “…we have a group of Chinese Earthlings renown for their gymnastics and acrobatic shows!”

The group hopped around like fleas on speed. Complex routines kept the audience riveted on their act. Their graceful strength and agility was appreciated by the athletic Staroians…many of whom had already forgotten about the brutality of the prior act.

Among the audience however, was a press pool covering the historic event. A popular reporter from a major newspaper in Staro’s capitol city of Werjet, was composing his article while the Earthlings went through their routines.

“Just what defines entertainment?” he asked, in the first sentence.

As It Stands, entertainment can mean different things, in different cultures, and worlds.

 

The Lone Wolf and the Space Cruiser

renderfin_by_adamkop-d9c9jw1The first company to offer public Space Cruises was Skyliner Corporation, in 2103.

The privately owned company was known for its innovations in space travel as a contractor for the U.S. military since 2078.

Space travel was becoming routine when the company’s first public space cruiser took its maiden flight in 2099. The 230 passengers consisted of family members of the entire team that built the giant luxury cruiser, and celebrities who paid top dollar to be on the historic flight into outer space.

The Captain, Joseph Van deMare, was a veteran space traveler who set numerous flight records during his career with the military. Skyliner’s CEO, Todd Knight, lured him out of retirement with the offer to make history, and a lot of money.

The two passenger levels offered a 360-degree view of the wonders of space. Every modern convenience was available to make passengers comfortable. The food, offered up by a 5-star chef was, as the company literature boasted, out of this world!

After the three-day cruise was over, passengers raved about their experiences. They made appearances on popular TV shows and shared their stories of awe and wonder. Some even claimed it was like a religious experience.

Afterwards, the designers and engineers went over the giant ship to see how it held up. One of the many computer techs found something in the software that troubled him. He went to his boss and explained his concern.

There were a couple of minor failures in the re-entry system software, and if not for the fail-safe system backup there could have been a disaster. All those happy passengers could have been roasted like chestnuts in a fire.

The board of directors agreed more work needed to be done before the next public flight. They also made sure no word got out about how close they’d come to a catastrophic event.

A year later the designers, the engineers, and the computer techs, patched the problems and added another back-up, to the first back-up system. Throughout this time controversy sprang up on social media platforms, and television, about man’s need to leave the planet.

Most agreed it was a good thing. Space travel for the masses might someday save mankind. Others thought it was blasphemy that people would want to leave the planet God made for them. Even for a short time.

Captain Van deMare stood on a platform next to the Space Cruiser, christened The Arc by the press, and the Milky Way Express by the owners, and patiently answered questions.

“Is it true there’s going to six weddings during this cruise?” a reporter from CNN asked.

“Yes. And I’ll be marrying them.”

“Any safety concerns?” another reporter from a local news station asked.

“If there were, I wouldn’t be going. This big bird (he slapped the side of the space cruiser’s hull) is indestructible,” he assured the reporter.

Watch it!” another reporter joked, “Isn’t that what the owners said about The Titanic?” 

“Well, that’s about all. I have to get ready now, we’re leaving in six hours. Thank you all for coming. I’ll see you again when we get back,” Captain Van deMare said.

DAY ONE

All of the passengers are having the time of their lives with the exception of one man, Abraham Klein. He’s sitting quietly at a table for two. Before him, an Autumn Vegetable Salad with Beetroot Dressing has hardly been touched.

He waits for God to speak to him. He’s ready.

DAY TWO

Alone in his room, Abraham pulls out the leather pouch from beneath his shirt. He carefully pulls the leather string and peeks inside – the miniature bomb’s shiny surface picks up the overhead light and he sees his face.

But no word from God.

DAY THREE

Abraham continues avoiding conversations with people. It’s lonely being God’s servant. He has a moment of guilt when he sees a new bride kiss her husband on the big screen. Their joy almost seems heavenly he thought, then caught himself.

No. He was the heavenly one. Soon to be one of God’s angels.

DAY FOUR

When the captain offered a tour of the massive space cruiser, Abraham joined in with the other passengers. His heart sped up. Was this going to be his opportunity?

Two levels below the second passenger level, there were three fusion reactors that powered the behemoth. As the curious passengers stepped out of the elevators, Abraham felt his chest, and the leather bag underneath his shirt burned.

Then God spoke.

Back on Earth

Press from around the world surrounded Skyliner Corporations headquarters.

The Milky Way Express had gone dark two days ago. Phone calls to, and from, the space cruiser suddenly stopped. Military space ships searched the route the space cruiser took, but found nothing.

As It Stands, this is my nod to the terrorists we face today. Especially to “Lone Wolfs.”