The Hunter

Abasi watched the hunter chasing a gorilla with serious eyes.

The sun was retreating back to its home in the heavens causing fantastical shadows in the deep green forest as Abasi watched the hunter fire a shot at a silverback gorilla barreling through the thick underbrush.

A loud crack was followed by the sound of the gorilla’s roar of defiance in the distance. The bullet missed. The gorilla disappeared into the growing night. Abasi studied the hunter’s features from his hiding place to see his reaction to the gorilla’s challenge. None. He ejected the empty shell and held his rifle loosely against across his chest in a port arms position and listened to the sounds of the night.

Abasi estimated the hunter was about five feet, six inches tall, and weighed all of 135 pounds dripping wet. Not exactly a big game hunter he chuckled to himself. Getting serious (his name meant serious) he wondered what drew the hunter to this mangrove forest where hunting was forbidden and the trees critically endangered due to habitat loss? He strained his brain trying to recall the last time a hunter came through his land. He thoughts came back to the present when the hunter set out again, clumsily working his way through some ferns heading south towards the Congo Basin.

Staying behind the hunter, Abasi gently pushed Monkey Brush Vines aside as he cautiously followed him. He paused in a patch of Passion flowers when the hunter stopped and raised his rifle, slowly swinging it back and forth in a small arc like he was expecting to be attacked at any minute.

The thing about Abasi is he liked the peace and shelter the gorge provided and didn’t want things to change. But this hunter was an immediate threat to his family and friends and couldn’t be ignored. He rushed forward with both arms up over his head just as the hunter began to turn around and crushed him in his powerful arms before tossing him around like a rag doll. As his consciousness slipped away the hunter marveled at the sheer size of the silverback that got him!

-30-

The Last Lighthouse

Ajax carefully climbed down the circular stairway inside the lighthouse until he reached the ground floor.

His seventy-year-old bones creaked with the effort as he opened the heavy oaken door to look out into the night. A choppy sea illuminated by bright stars and the moon went on for eternity. He sighed. Nostalgia washed over him like the restless surf outside as he considered his solitary existence. He looked up at the sturdy stone tower that had stood since ancient times silently guarding the coast. Watching. Waiting. Warning ships at sea.

Memories like shadows on the shore darted across his mind as he recalled 63 years ago when he and his father escaped the cities and found the lighthouse unhabituated. The war to end all wars had finally come. Mankind was nearly extinct. Ajax’s father died twenty years ago. He hadn’t seen another human since. But, in his heart, he felt there had to be more survivors somewhere on the planet. The thought helped him wake up in the mornings after dreaming about making contact again with another human. It stopped him from sporadically screaming in frenzied fits like the early days after his father died. Without this last hope he would have walked out into the turbulent breakers and disappeared long ago.

Ajax started a diary two years after his father passed away while sleeping in the lighthouses crude bed. He was nine years old at the time. His father had taught him to read and write and he was an eager learner. He started with observations after going on long walks along the rugged coast. After a year he started sharing inner thoughts and desires. The diary took on a life and he held many in-depth conversations with it. The years were scattered across numerous notebooks that he stacked up next to his bed on a bench. The writing was small in order to conserve space.

The notebooks came from what was once a school about a mile from the lighthouse. Inside the rubble Ajax found blank notebooks, boxes of pencils, chalk, and small jars of acrylic paint. He wrapped his loot up with a torn and faded American flag from a classroom that was still standing and walked back to the lighthouse with a light step. It was a good day.

Food was never a problem. His father who was a master forager and gardener had discovered a patch of fertile ground inland within easy access. He planted potatoes, vegetables and wheat and they always had something to eat. There were no animals to hunt. They too had disappeared. It was a good diet that helped them to stay healthy. The storeroom was always well stocked.

The lighthouse was a beacon of hope for Ajax. He lit the fire in the dome every night with wood gathered along the coast. He imagined someday someone would see it and sail to him. Guided by the light. And during the day he looked out the thin windows at the panorama that stretched for miles, disappearing into a mountain range that always had a blanket of snow on the top. It was graced with green fields. Lush rows of berry bushes. It was full of trees and streams, but without any life that he could see. Despite that he looked out every day hoping to see movement. Any sign of life.

One-night hours after setting the blaze in the tower Ajax was gazing at the dark purplish horizon when he saw some lights flicker momentarily! A steady row of lights appeared shortly afterward, and he felt his pulse race with excitement. They had to be ships. Not one, but three were moving steadily in the direction of the lighthouse. His heart was racing as he scrambled down the circular staircase and stepped outside the door. He wasn’t worried about how he looked. The rags that hung on his slim frame were fine. He doubted the new arrivals would make much of his long beard and tattered toga. He felt giddy that his dreams appeared to become real and that in a matter of hours he would be talking with another human!

Meanwhile.

Ahoy, captain! A lighthouse ahead!”

Captain Igor Malinski grunted in satisfaction. His warship, an old battleship from the eastern bloc, had destroyed every lighthouse along the entire coastline as ordered. Or so they thought until a scout ship reported Ajax’s lighthouse.

As the sun rose slowly over the horizon Ajax woke up and could see three ships. He was too excited to get something to eat and stretched his skinny arms upward, eyes upward, welcoming the light. He didn’t see the huge cannons pivoting towards him.

Fire!” the captain shouted.

THE END

The Fickle Gods Own Bartender

600 words –

“I’ll have a scotch on the rocks when your done serving those sissies at the end of the bar!” a belligerent customer bellowed.

Willie the bartender glanced over his shoulder at the loudmouth on the other end of the bar while continuing to serve the two men beer and pretzels.

He’d seen his type before. A mean drunk. Rather than violently kick him out, which he had every right to do, Willie walked over to him and looked him straight in the eye. Something in his stare caused the rowdy customer to instantly calm down.

“You sure you haven’t had enough for the night buddy?” he asked. The would-be customer slid off the bar stool and muttered that he was taking his business elsewhere as his unsteady legs propelled him towards the door.

In Willie’s world, the bar was a waiting room for restless souls, not yet gone on to any reward, and not likely too either. The tortured souls who sat at his bar looked for advise and solace. They were confused and he found that most were looking for heaven. They came to the bar to learn about their next step in the process of passing from one life to another.

They told him their life stories over shots of tequila and whiskey; wondering why their drinks didn’t make the misery of this alcoholic purgatory disappear.

Then there were those carefree souls who laughed and partied through the endless nights, calling Willie, “St. Peter,” and begging him to escort them through invisible Pearly Gates. But it wasn’t Willie’s job. All he was supposed to do was listen and offer his two-cents worth while serving endless alcoholic drinks.

Long ago Willie realized his karma was damaged beyond repair. That was why the gods (there had to be more than one) put him where he was. A lifelong alcoholic who drank himself to death and was resurrected as a messenger between worlds. What irony. The gods sense of humor was impossible for Willie to understand. He was a hostage for eternity.

One day all that changed.

The god of chaos sent other deities spinning through dimensions and worlds unborn, in a burst of cosmic energy that tore souls loose from the places they were stuck. Adrift, the souls turned to space, eagerly looking for new landings. New starts.

Willie found himself on earth again. It was 1923 and he owned a whiskey distillery that supplied gangsters from Chicago to New York. As he watched the last truck pull out, packed with crates of his signature booze, Willie had a nagging feeling that the good times weren’t going to last. He was rich beyond his wildest dreams, but business was just too good to walk away from. Besides, he felt alcohol was part of his destiny. His rise to glory.

Willie was on to something. He just didn’t realize it then.

When the mobsters attacked his distillery one night he was killed playing a game of poker with his two bodyguards. His suddenly rich wife buried him quietly.

Dimensions shifted. Alternate universes collided. The gods fought for time and space. New worlds were springing up in far away solar systems. Galaxies groaned as solar systems stretched and contracted, collecting stars like seashells on earth’s beaches.

And Willie found himself pouring a beer from behind a long mahogany bar while listening to a sad soul’s story. He sighed because he knew it was going to take a very long time.

The gods shrill laughter echoed throughout the heavens, and meteors continued to scream through outer space on a mission to mock mankind.

Steps To Serenity

100 words –

Close your eyes and think about where you want to be. See what you want to see. What makes you happy?

Allow peace to settle upon your soul like a warm blanket in the winter.

Visions of eternity compete with reality, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find serenity. It’s there, deep inside like a splinter.

Let your inner being be serene, and dream. Everything isn’t as it may seem. Our life is a mystery, our roots long lost in history. We each have a story.

The road to happiness runs from desire to the heart whose destiny is serenity.

The Daily Life Run

200 words –

The life and death betting odds are officially released for today’s races:

Trainer’s Notes: Today’s contestants are from the North American continent and are all three-year veterans of the Life Run, which means none have ever lost a race.

Handicapping will be according to international game standards, factoring in weight, height, and skills with multiple weapons.

Announcer: “The first contestant is off! He’s carrying an automatic pistol and what appears to be a 17th samurai sword and has settled into a steady pace.

Just a refresher for any new viewers; there’s four contestants in each race. They take off from the four points of the life circle.

The goal is to get to the center of the circle first and take the antidote for the poison they were all given. As you can imagine, there’s some desperate fighting going on as contestants run into one another in the dark maze tunnels.

Note: Hopefully, future historians will understand why the daily life run is necessary after reading this. The long and the short of it, population control. The daily races are held throughout the planet. The races were agreed upon as a more human (and entertaining) way to cull the population.

Nightmares and Fears

100 words –

The heathen hoard clambered over the remnants of the consciousness wall, bringing madness to the chaos already imbedded there.

Reality is readily routed. The dreamer tries to break the dark ties, but only finds loathsome things like nightmares. Ghastly memories rooted in time tip-toe through their unconscious mind.

Unforgiving monsters stalk the sleeping brain, seeking tears by using fears built up through the years. Slumbering memories of sadness step around madness every night in a silent fight against nightmares and fears.

The gods comment: “Poor humans. They’re so frail that their minds are held hostage when they go to sleep.”

Unsung Hero

450 words –

The dim glow of a quarter moon filtered through the curtains and cast shadows on the walls. Walter’s eyes struggled to make out the shifting shapes that pranced across them in a creepy parade.

Were they scenes from his past? Was waiting to die a way to suddenly come into contact with that mystical part of the brain scientists and poets write about? Do revelations reveal themselves before you’re executed?

The promise of a sure death was a blow to Walter’s soul and very being. He knew only hours separated him from the firing squad and eternity. This last night wasn’t for sleep. It was a time to pray. A time to accept one’s fate bravely. It was a time to fight the growing panic that comes when a body is not ready to die.

The idea of being tied to a stake and shot like a target didn’t register with his reality. How could this be? He wasn’t a deserter! They were wrong! The reason he was the only soldier left alive was because he never stopped fighting and the enemy drifted away after two days of fierce fighting. He didn’t run away, and come back to the fort after the battle was over like the tribunal claimed.

It was a case of universal injustice.

The rising sun went from blood red, to orange, to yellow, and finally burst into an azure blue. Not a cloud in the sky. A beautiful day to die.

When he heard gunfire coming from the walls he stopped pacing back and forth in the tiny room they locked him in next to the captain’s quarters. Screams of surprise and pain! A sustained rate of gunfire told him there was an all-out assault on the fort.

The battle lasted all day, finally slowing down at dusk. Walter looked out his shattered window and saw fires burning in some of the buildings across the courtyard. Bodies were everywhere. Legionnaires and Arabs. He could see the front gate were breeched.

He took a chance and climbed through the window. Taking a rifle from the dead legionnaire who was once his guard, he moved cautiously through the courtyard – rifle at the ready. After hours of searching he discovered he was the only survivor. Before disappearing into the desert the Arabs sacked the fort and spiked the two cannons. He scavenged bodies for rations.

Why no one looked in his room during the fighting was a mystery. It looked like his luck had changed.

Two days later a relief regiment arrived and discovered Walter. He told them his story. After a 25-minute trial the captain said “Arrest this deserter! We’ll make an example of him!”

The Trouble With The Dark Lord

100 words –

Hail brave warrior!

The entrance to the labyrinth is open, waiting for you to explore the inner earth and it’s dark denizens. The Dark Lord awaits you eagerly. Fight bravely one more time and there will be a special place for you in hell – where heroes go to brag about their savagery and great deeds until the sands of time run out.

That’s the price you pay to play the Dark Lord’s game of war.

Go forth now and slay a demon to get the Dark Lord’s attention, or spend eternity with the souls of the people you’ve slain.

Getting The Edge

100 words –

Everyone tries to get the edge sometime.

You know what I mean. The old leg up. Getting over someone. Vying to be the first or last. Cutting in line. Buying a faster car. The competitive edge. Close to the edge of sanity in the pursuit to win.

Edgy behavior transforming into cults is common in our culture. Pulling up to the edge of a cliff thrills as eternity teeters, and you either live or die. There’s myriad ways to get an edge. Not all are deadly.

Just remember the edge is a two-sided sword with no concern for the seeker.

Reasons For Seasons

1000 words –

It wasn’t that Alto Morelli didn’t believe the best revenge was served cold, but at times he was sick and tired of waiting for his chance.

How long had it been since the bastard killed his brother Joey? Two, three years? It seemed like forever. But you can’t just knock off a Mafia capo and expect to live…unless you wait until just the right moment and no one can trace it to you. Rule one for successful revenges; live to tell the tale.

Alto was an independent contractor. He hired out his gun, but never his loyalty to many of the denizens of the underworld in 1932. The press referred to his kind as a “Hit Man.” But very few people in New York, New Jersey, or Chicago knew that he was one. Mostly Mafia crime bosses and leaders of other gangs like the Irish Mob.

The other thing about Alto was no one knew what his last name was. Only his brother Joey knew it, and he was dead now. His killer, Johnny Dancer, was a capo for the Bonnano crime family in New York. He was also a paranoid schizophrenic who surrounded himself with bodyguards at all times. Johnny knew there were plenty of people out there who wanted to see him dead…for a whole host of reasons.

Still, it was hard to wait. Alto was a man of action. At times he felt like a coward, taking so long to extract his pound of flesh because he wasn’t ready to die doing it. It felt like he was desecrating Joey’s memory at times. He shook those thoughts off and forged ahead looking for the perfect opening.

The bible said there was, “… a time for everything, a season for every activity under the heavens.” That encouraged him because he was a Catholic, even if he didn’t go to confession.

Faith in that quote kept him going. He knew there would be a season to kill, and his family burden would be forever lifted.

The season to kill finally arrived when Alto’s paid snitch in the Bonnano family told him Johnny and two of his rich friends were going upstate to the Catskills for a weekend of fishing and hunting. He gave Alto the directions, who thanked him and then shot him point blank! No witnesses. Number Two rule of survival.

Hunting season in the Catskills. How appropriate.

When Alto arrived at the hunting lodge he took his time sizing up how many occupants were there. He quickly spotted Johnny and what he took to be his two rich friends. Not far away were two alert-looking bodyguards watching the three men eat a meal outdoors on the open porch.

It took a few more hours before he discovered the other two bodyguards who were patrolling the perimeter of the lodge. Six people who he had to kill, but it was worth it to get Johnny. He was already envisioning where he would dispose of the bodies afterward. No one would ever know what happened.

His inner survivor briefly questioned if this was the right season, after all the odds were against him. Then he focused upon the task. He waited until late at night, past midnight, and snuck up on the first guard outside the front door, slitting his throat neatly and professionally.

The second guard was nodding in a chair in the living room. He looked up in time to see Alto for a moment, then a hand went over his mouth while his throat was slashed open. Then Alto cautiously went into the first bedroom. Saw someone in a bed. Went right over, checked his face briefly in the light of the full moon streaming through the window. Another guard. Slit his throat.

He went to the second bedroom. This time the sleeper was one of Johnny’s pals. Slit his throat. The next room had the other pal. Slit his throat. That left Johnny and one guard. Was that guard in Johnny’s bedroom? He opened the last bedroom door slowly. Inch-by-inch. His keen ears attuned to any sound.

Then he heard a click! Without thinking he dropped down to the floor as the shotgun blast tore into the door! Alto pulled his .45 Colt Automatic out and fired from the prone position in the direction of the blast! A man screamed and collapsed directly across from him. Then another shotgun blast hastily fired over his head from the right near the bed! When he rose up Johnny was trying to reload, but was fumbling with the cartridge.

Instead of immediately killing him Alto jumped up and rushed him, knocking the old twin-barrel shotgun aside as he grabbed his neck with one hand and hit him alongside the head with the pistol in the other. He stood over the bleeding and semi conscious man and considered how he wanted to kill him.

He thought about when he found his brother, just before he died, and how badly he suffered. His tormentors took a drill to both his hands and feet. They pulled out all of his teeth. There were numerous burns and cuts from head to toe. They blinded him with a hot poker and cut his tongue out.

In the end, he took Johnny outside for a short walk from the lodge and tied him to a tree. Then he cut him from sternum to groin so his guts leaked out while he was still alive. He stayed long enough to listen to and savor his screams which deteriorated to moans as his lifeblood soaked the base of the tree.

Two novice hunters heard the screams. They followed them through the forest. Both were teenagers and eager to find the source. Suddenly something big burst through the undergrowth and they both panicked and fired their rifles!

Alto spun around when one of the shots hit him in the chest, falling to the ground heavily. His last thought made him grin at the irony, “There’s also a season for dying.”

PhoebeMD: Health + Inspiration

Poetry • Medicine • Life

The Light is On

Thoughts, Stories, Poems

John Wreford Photographer

Words and Pictures from the Middle East

Dennis R. Hill

Donald Trump Is America's Biggest National Security Threat

Lucy Gan

The official blog of Lucy Gan

Dirty Sci-Fi Buddha

Musings and books from a grunty overthinker

Otrazhenie

Reflection

Wise & Shine

Understanding ourselves and the world we live in.

WIND

Random thoughts -- My karma ran over my dogma. ALL OF THIS IS JUST MY HUMBLE OPINION (Backed-up by FACTS!).

Diary of a Gen-X Traveler

Traveling to experience places not just visit them!

shakemyheadhollow

Conceptual spaces: politics, philosophy, art, literature, religion, cultural history

Bombay Ficus

Running, Writing, Real Life Experiences & Relatable Content.

JustCallMeTaco

Anxiety, Pain, Self-Harm, Addiction, PTSD, Loss, and In Your Face Reality

Monkey's Tale

An Adventure Travel Blog

%d bloggers like this: