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Other Random Stories

Freaky Little Girl

This short story was rejected from an anthology I wrote it for. Therefore, I’m publishing it here for you to read. Enjoy. 

Lucas Hanson walked into his spacious kitchen from his garage carrying bags of groceries that had been driven there in the trunk of his brand new Mercedes. In a few hours, his girlfriend, Jeanie, would be done with her personal training clients and come home. Then over a candlelight dinner he would propose to her. When she said yes, they’d get married, start a family and fill the suburban mansion he had bought with the fortune he had made from the mobile game company, Bellstar Gaming, he had founded at age twenty-six. People were willing to pay him small fortunes to unlock cheats and virtual items in the vast array of casual games the company made. Those numerous small fortunes had turned into one big fortune for him.

He was now thirty and it was time to settle down, especially since he bought the six bedroom mansion on a whim. Of the six bedrooms, he and Jeanie slept in the largest. One was an office and the others were all guest rooms.  The other rooms were all furnished but aside from the kitchen he only ever used the breakfast and living rooms.

Lucas dropped the groceries on the granite countertops and began to put them away in his Subzero refrigerators. He would be making beef tenderloin with red wine sauce, a recipe he’d picked out online.

Furious galloping was heard as his two year-old black pit-bull Damien came bounding into the kitchen from the breakfast room and deposited himself by Lucas’s feet. Damien wagged his tail and looked up with wanting eyes.

“Beef’s not for you.” Lucas reached into a cupboard and pulled out a bag of doggy treats. Damien sat very still in anticipation. Lucas dropped a treat and Damien happily gobbled it up. Lucas patted his head and finished putting away the groceries.

He then walked thought the breakfast room, which contained four chairs and a circular wooden table, into the family room. The family room had a leather love seat and sofa in front of a high-end entertainment system, including a 52-inch plasma HDTV. Behind the furniture were the patio doors which led to his pool and the large grassy backyard.

Past the living room was his home office. Lucas sat down at the desk and turned on his laptop while Damien lay down at his feet.

After Lucas spent a few minutes checking his email, the doorbell rang and Damien rushed out of the room. Lucas went to the foyer between the living room and the dining room, pushed a barking Damien aside and opened the door.

On his doorstep was a harried but familiar-looking woman who had two suitcases by her feet. An idling minivan was parked at the apex on the circular driveway which was surrounded by brightly colored flowerbeds and the occasional marble sculpture.
Damien looked past the woman and growled.  Lucas snapped his fingers and Damien whimpered and walked backwards, still keeping his eyes locked forwards. “Don’t mind him… Can I help you?”

“My name is Samantha Jacobs, you might not remember me but I remember you,” the woman said quickly. “Nine years ago in college we had an one night stand and-”

Lucas put his palms out. “Excuse me, slow down.”

She didn’t.

”I got pregnant and had a daughter, your daughter…” Samantha placed the suitcases on either side of Lucas and then handed Lucas a piece of paper. “I hired somebody to collect some of your hair from your office and ran a paternity test which proves you’re her biological father.”

She handed him a second piece of paper. “I forged your signature on the guardian transfer forms, hope that’s ok.” Samantha turned and dashed towards the van. “Her name is Emily and you’ll need to home school her and…” The rest faded as Samantha ran around to the driver’s side.

The van sped off with a squeal, revealing a girl with long black hair who was dressed in a white gown. Her back was turned. She held a ratty doll in one hand and the handle of a small wheeled duffle in the other. The duffle had “Emily” blazoned in red letters across it.

Emily was looking at the opposite mansion which belonged to a large family of five named the Keiths. Faint sounds of laughing and playing drifted across the street. The neighbors to either side were obscured by the stand of trees which separated the properties.

A car slowed down as it passed, but then sped off. Probably lost, Lucas hoped.

Lucas’s mind was blank, still unable to process the realization that he had a daughter and she had been dumped on in his doorstep in less than a minute. Damien’s snarling brought him back.

“Damien, no!” Damien looked up at Lucas for a moment, but kept snarling. Lucas grabbed the dog’s collar, led him across the house and threw him into the backyard. He slammed the patio doors after the dog.

Lucas went back to the foyer to find Emily looking straight at him. Her bangs obscured much of her pale face, but he could tell from her size and delicate features – along with the time line if Samantha was telling the truth – that she was around eight years old.

As his daughter strode across the driveway onto the doorstep, the flowers to either side of the stoop withered and died in seconds, leaving the painstakingly manicured flower beds graveyards. The grassy median of the driveway was brown, also completely dead.

Emily let go of the duffle and pushed her bangs to the side. Her piecing black eyes entered his soul.

This was his daughter, he just knew.  He was now responsible for her.

Fear gripped his soul.

Jeanie wasn’t going to like this at all.

“Hello, daddy,” Emily said in a gravely tone. “Can I come in?” Lucas took two shaky steps back. Emily stepped inside. She walked past him and stood at the edge of the foyer and looked around. “Am I am going to live in the basement?”

The moment Lucas shut the door; the house grew darker and colder. The furniture took on a more ominous, almost gothic look. A fine layer of dust and cobwebs had suddenly settled on the walls and floors.

Forcing a smile, Lucas he took the suitcases. “I don’t have a basement.” He walked to the stairs facing the foyer. “Your room will be big and next to mine. Come on.” He walked up the stairs, leaving Emily behind.

At the top of the stairs, the suitcases hit the flood with a thud. Emily stood calmly by her bedroom door without her luggage or doll.

He turned, dashed downstairs to find the foyer empty. He ran back up to find Emily still by the door.

His face was flush with sweat. A headache pounded between his temples. Lucas kneeled down into front of the girl.

“Emily, honey,” Lucas said, putting on his best parental voice, “if you’re going to live with me we need to set some rules.”

Emily frowned and folded her arms. “Mommy didn’t want me and you don’t want me either.”

He put his hands on her shoulders. “It’s not that. It’s just that this is all new for me.”

Emily smiled and pushed the door open.

The guest bedroom had been changed from a brightly colored room with a fluffy bed to a dark dungeon lit by a half-dozen standing candelabras. Everything in it was black, from the carpet to the paint to the sheets on the bed. Even the windows were painted back. In the middle of the room was a small table around which sat two disfigured dolls, one with pins in its head and the other with no limbs. In the center of the table was a porcelain tea set. Steam was rising from the kettle.

“Want to have tea with me, daddy?”

He kept himself from screaming no and running from the house. He carefully said, “Yes, I would love to.”

They walked into her bedroom and sat around the small table in small chairs.

Lucas was silent as Emily poured black tea for Amanda, the doll with pins in her head, and Gwyneth, the doll with no limbs. Amanda came to life and reached for the cup with her small plastic hands and drank the tea. The tea in Gwyneth’s cup drained on its own.

Emily then poured a cup for her father and herself. Emily drank right up, but Lucas hesitated.

“Drink daddy,” her eyes sparkled in the candlelight.

“I’m not going to poison you like I did grandma and grandpa.”

Lucas drank the entire cup in one gulp. The tea tasted pretty good.

“Girls your age don’t have tea parties anymore,” he said.

“They dress up like sluts,” the eight-year-old girl replied, “at least that’s mommy told me.”

Amanda and Gwyneth jiggled for more tea, when Emily gladly poured. “Want some more, daddy?”

“Sure.” He held out his cup.

Emily poured and as Lucas drank, Emily asked, “Why you did leave mommy for that whore when she was pregnant?”

Lucas choked and coughed. “I—she—it’s complicated.”

He wasn’t sure how to tell his daughter she was conceived in a one-night-stand he barely remembered in his fraternity bedroom during his senior year in college. It wasn’t the first and it wasn’t the last. From what he did remember, the next morning Samantha had gathered her stuff and left before he even woke. He had never heard from her again until she showed up with Emily.

Emily sighed. “Mommy lied, didn’t she? She lied a lot. She kept me in locked in the basement and fed me table scraps. I’ve never had friends.”

Emily suddenly started to sob. Black tears ran down her face. “Mommy hated me. She called me a freak and was ashamed of me.” The evil was gone from her eyes. In its place was simply a lonely little girl. “Don’t leave me, daddy!”

Lucas ran around the table and hugged her. She wrapped her arms around him and buried her head in his shoulder. It felt good comforting her, as if some long dormant parental part of him was slowly waking up. She did sort of look like him, having his straight black hair and rounded chin.

But he didn’t cause plants to die or changed rooms’ appearances on a whim.

The doorbell rang. Damien barked from the backyard. The room snapped into a bright pink girl’s room. The queen-sized bed had shrunk to a twin  and there was a desk along a wall. Dolls and stuffed animals littered the floor around the table. Amanda and Gwyneth were now just two fully intact normal-looking dolls. The tea-set was pink plastic. The kettle was empty. Emily was wearing a bright pastel dress. Her face was freckled and soft, not dark and demonic.

“I’ll be right back.”

Lucas ran downstairs, ignoring Damien from the moment. This time he peeked through the peephole to see an older Catholic priest with a rosary around his neck and a bag around his shoulder. The flower beds were still dead.

Lucas opened the door.

The priest burst past Lucas and looked around. “Come out, demon child, I know you’re here!”

“Sir, if you don’t leave right now I’ll call the cops,” said Lucas.

The priest glared at Lucas. “You know exactly who I’m talking about! Those flowers didn’t kill themselves!”

On cue, Emily skipped down the stairs with a big grin on her face. “Can I play with the dog?” She asked in a sweet high-pitched voice. The flowers mysteriously came back to life. The priest didn’t care.

The priest started for her, but Lucas grabbed his frock and pulled him back.

“Damien likes playing fetch,” Lucas said to Emily.

Emily skipped into the family room. The priest pulled away. “You don’t know what you’ve done!”

“Done what? She’s just a girl!”

“A demonic freakish girl! I have spent the last eight years keeping her trapped. But she got to her mother and made her set her free. You must trust nothing that girl says. She only seeks the inevitable destruction and death of all things!”

“I’m Lucas.” He extended his hand. The priest might’ve come on a little strong, but obviously he might provide some answers.

“Father Thomas McMullen.”

Lacus motioned to the living room. Father McMullen looked towards the family room. They walked in to find demonic Emily sitting on the patio in front of a disemboweled Damien. She clutched Damien’s still-beating heart in her bloodstained hands, raising it overhead while chanting in Latin. The sky had turned dark and a whirlpool of clouds had settled above the house.

Father McMullen pulled a vial of holy water and a bible out of his bag.

“Hold on,” Lucas opened the patio doors. “Emily, go to your room!”

The sky went back to normal. Damien was spontaneously re-emboweled. He sat up and happily barked.

“I’m sorry, daddy, I’ve just never met an animal I didn’t sacrifice.”

“I understand, just go upstairs and stay in your in room until I’m done talking to our visitor.”

Emily walked inside with Damien. Lucas held Damien’s collar as Emily walked out of the family room and went upstairs. The door shut.

“You’ve managed to do the one thing her mother could not, which is discipline her,” the priest said. “I wonder why that is?”

He held out his rosary towards Lucas.

“I’m not a demon.” Lucas reached grabbed the rosary for a moment and then let go, unharmed. “I’m not entirely sure this all isn’t one big fucked up dream meant to scare me out of having children. But the one thing I do know is that despite Emily’s abilities and appearance, she’s just an eight-year-old girl. Therefore, I should treat her like one.”

“Let’s sit, there is much you have to learn.”

Lucas sat on the loveseat with Damien by his feet, always looking up. Father McMullen sat on the sofa.

“So tell me everything,” Lucas said.

“When a child is conceived, the Lord implants a soul in it, giving it life. But when your child was conceived, a demon was implanted instead. From the moment Emily was born, she’s been evil, starting with turning the maternity ward into a twisted nightmare full of demonic babies,” said McMullen.

“I was the priest called in by the hospital to exorcise Emily. Although I’ve performed several exorcisms around the world previously with success, I failed that time. I couldn’t exorcise the demon out your daughter. Her body and the demon are one,” continued the priest. “I then tried to kill her, but Emily cannot be killed for she is not of this world. Instead, I consulted the Vatican and we set up a special room protected by holy seals in Ms. Jacob’s parents’ basement. This is where Emily would spend her natural life.”

Lucas had not been a religious man. He didn’t believe in souls and demons.

He did now, as there was no other explanation.

“If she can’t be killed, how do you know she’ll die?”

“’From dust to dust.’ Her soul might be demonic, but her flesh is of this earth. But the demon will not let her perish until it decides it is time. So for eight years, I watched her grow from an infant to a toddler to the girl she is now, trapped in the basement. Then, a few weeks ago, Emily started demanding to go live with her father incessantly. Against my warnings, Ms. Jacobs broke the seals and brought Emily here to finally get rid of her. But make no mistake, Ms. Jacob will not get away free. She’s probably committing suicide as we speak.”

Father McMullen muttered a prayer while making the sign of the cross.

Jacob held his head for a moment and then muttered. “And why wasn’t I contacted about this?”

“That I can’t speak to; it was Ms. Jacob’s decision, not mine. However, regardless of what you want for her, she is still a demon and must be contained.”

Lucas sat forward. “I’m not keeping… my daughter locked in her bedroom for the rest of her life.”

“You have no choice!”

“Yes I do, this is my house and she is my child.”

Lucas stood up. “I’d like it if you’d leave now.”

Damien sat up and wagged his tail.

Father McMullen did not move. “I cannot leave a demon free to walk to earth. It is my responsibility as a servant of Jesus Christ!”

Father McMullen’s head tilted back as his eyes rolled back into head. His arms forcefully flew outward to either side. The priest lifted into the air. Wounds formed on his wrists as he the priest gasped for air.

“Emily, stop this!” cried Lucas.

The girl’s demonic visage appeared on the television. “But why, daddy? That man will never stop bothering us as long as he lives.”

The pounding headache returned. “But—but—as long as you’re in this house, you can’t kill anyone!”

Father McMullen disappeared as Emily stepped out of the TV. “Fine, I’ll go play with the neighbors.”

She walked out of the family room.

“Where’d he go?” Lucas called.

“Into an oven,” she replied.

The door opened and slammed. Lucas figured Emily had sent the priest to Hell and there was nothing he could do about it.

Lucas ran into the kitchen and pulled a bottle of aspirin and downed two pills. He then leaned against the counter holding himself up with his hands pressed against the granite. Lucas stared at it, tracing the shapes and squiggles with him eyes.

A tear dropped onto the granite, forming a small puddle, then a second, and then a third. His limbs gave out and he fell onto the floor. Lucas curled up into a fetal position and cried.

An hour or two ago at most his life was looking up. Now it was in shambles. He just wanted someone to hug him and tell him everything was going to be alright.

He couldn’t run to his parents, he didn’t have any. They died in a horrific house fire his senior year in college, and he was an only child. But he wasn’t alone. He had someone, and that lifeline to her was sitting in his pocket. Lucas sat up and pulled out his cell phone. He pressed the power button but it wouldn’t turn on.

The charge was dead.

Lucas threw the cell phone across the floor, where it came to rest in front of Damien. The dog sat and stared at him, tongue hanging out. He looked just fine. Before he was barking and growling at everything, now he was passive and happy.

Damien’s eyes had that same evil aura that Emily’s did.

His ability to influence Emily was an illusion. She was playing him the entire time. She brought Damien back, but brought him back evil. She went to her room, only to appear in the TV and kill Father McMullen, the one person who could contain her. Now she was across the street, playing with the—

Lucas sprinted out the front door and down the driveway. Laughing emanated from the house as before, but as Lucas draw closer the laughs turned to cries and agonizing screams. A short ways up the Keiths’ driveway, their house exploded in a red fireball, sending Lucas to the asphalt.

His entire body ached as heat and smoke rolled over him. His resolve and hope vanished. Emily might have been his daughter, but she was pure darkness. He could never love her.

Emily stood above him. Her dark eyes poked out from behind her bangs.

Lucas scrambled back, terror etched on his face in stone.

“I’m not going to hurt you, daddy, because it’s ok if you’re afraid,” said Emily. “You just don’t understand, but you will!”

“But everyone will see this, everyone will know!”

“They can’t see us. When the firemen come, they’ll rule the fire an accident. They’ll never know.”

Lucas a car pulled into their driveway and headed towards garage. “Mommy’s home, she’ll explain everything.” Lucas sat up and looked behind him. It was a Jeanie’s black Ferrari he had bought her.

Lucas shivered. “But but—Mommy’s gone. She drove off and will never come back.”

Emily pointed. “No she didn’t. My old mommy never left the driveway.” The van was crumpled against a tree on the side of the property. Lucas had seen Samantha drive out of the driveway and take a right, but it was another illusion.

“Jeanie’s my new mommy, my true mommy! Together we’ll be one happy family.” Emily faintly smiled, freezing Lucas completely solid.

Emily held out her hand. “Come, daddy, mommy will make everything better.”

Fighting against every fiber of his being, Lucas took her hand.

Hand in hand, they walked across the street as alarmed neighbors ran towards the inferno, oblivious to their presence.

As father and daughter walked to the house, all the plants and the trees died again. The sky turned blood red. The commotion behind them because quiet and distant.

The house was quiet inside. Lucas dragged his feet as they walked into the family room, where Damien was standing next to Jeanie, who was looking out onto the patio. Jeanie, still in her pink jogging suit, was a toned woman with long blond hair and baby-blue eyes.

But as she turned, Jeanie’s eye had turned purple. A snake-like tongue flickered. This was not the woman he loved. They were acquaintances in college, but it wasn’t until she became his personal trainer later on that they became an item. She quit training him and moved in. But for all for that time, she had never displayed the side she now did.

That Jeanie had been a lie.

“Hello, Lucas,” she said in an emotionless tone. Jeanie walked forward and stood toe to toe. Lucas tried to pull back, but Emily’s grip kept him in place. Jeanie pulled his head forward into a kiss.

A warmth filled Lucas. Emily and Jeanie stepped back. The warmth increased, filling his entire body. The warmth became heat, the heat became burning and the burning became agony. Lucas collapsed onto his knees as his skin began to char and burn. He screamed as he burst into flames. Then he laughed as he stood up, in control and on fire.

He now understood. He had a demon soul. Many people did, but normally the darkness inside of them stayed hidden and manifested itself through ambition, greed and violence. Politicians, businessmen, serial killers, all those who would profit from the misfortune of others had demon souls.

But for some, the demon was too strong to keep inside, so it took possession of the body in full. The vessel became a thing of pure evil, twisting reality to fit its desires. This usually occurred after birth, but for Emily it had happened in the womb.

Lucas extinguished the flames, his figure now burnt beyond recognition. But Emily and Jeanie were ecstatic.

Emily clapped and jumped for joy, “Horary, daddy!”

Lucas hugged his daughter. “I’m so proud of you,” he said in a deep baritone. “I love you.”

Emily buried her head in his blistered chest. “I love you too, daddy.”

Emily released and Jeanie kissed him with lustful eyes. “You don’t remember, but that one night stand you had was a threesome. You got me pregnant but not her. In order to draw suspicion away from us, I transferred the embryo to Samantha, making her a surrogate.  But for various reasons, I didn’t get to Emily after she was born before the priest laid the seals. It took eight years to wear down Samantha’s resolve to the point she’d break the seals. In the meantime I took your heart and positioned us so that when Emily would be released, we’d become a family!”

“Glorious plan,” Lucas said in a deep baritone. “I couldn’t stand being locked inside that man!”

An aroma filled the room. Lucas sniffed. “Smells delicious. What’s for dinner?”

“Roasted priest,” Emily said. She held out her hands. Her father and mother took her hands that they walked into the dining room.

There they had their first family feast, dinning on Father McMullen. His flesh was crispy and juicy. He was the first of many to come…

Other Random Stories

Cybermagic Side Story: When to Walk Away

This not a K23 Side Story, is this is a short I wrote a few years ago based on the two Cybermagic novels, The Cybernetic Dragon and The Hidden Chasm which k23 is based on. As you’re about to read, the world presented in The Cybermagic Novels is similar, yet completely different.

Alfonso is a much grittier, creepier character. He’s not married here. The Avian are more like the standard fantasy bird-men than the ones in K23.

I’m posting to give people an idea of what Cybermagic is like, this not K23 Detectives, so don’t confuse the two.

—-

What was Alfonso doing in an Avian BSDM club at the bottom of the Red Light Tower?

He asked himself this question over and over and again as he walked past the two giant dark-brown Avians with chiseled beaks and Avian flails, which could sever limbs if swung hard enough.

“No. Trouble.” One of them said.

Fortunately, they didn’t frisk him, or they’d have found the laser pistol in his vest.

Just inside was an extremely bored-looking human receptionist. Being evolved parrots, Avians communicated by mimicking sounds, making direct communication difficult. A human receptionist was a wise decision.

She was sitting behind a desk, which was in front of a rusted metal wall displaying various kinds of flails, ranging from innocuous to the painful. It was still the morning and business was slow, so there was no one else in the lobby.

“Can I help you,” she said as she applied her neon green lipstick.

Alfonso showed his private eye badge and said, “Is there a Timothy Barbaro here?”

The receptionist perked up and shifted her eyes around. “The clientele of this club is kept strictly confidential.” Timothy was here, now it was a matter of getting to him while keep the violence to a minimal.

***

This case had started the day before when Janice Barbaro, Timothy’s wife came bawling into his office.

“I haven’t seen my husband in days and I’m worried about him,” she said between sniffles. “I want you to find him, I’ll pay 50k Dinari to find.”

“Do you have any idea where he is or who might be after him?”

She suddenly became quiet. “Well he does frequent the Red Light Tower–”

“—so you know he’s cheating on you with hookers?”

Janice shook her head. “No, no,” she smiled, “we do that together. Threesomes are fun. You should try them sometimes.”

Too much information. Then Janice frowned. “He does like to gamble there though; Poker specifically.” She scratched her head. “He never tells me if he wins or loses though, but our bank balance never goes down, thought I wish it went up, to tell you the truth.”

All he needed to know. Alfonso took a puff of his cigarette and leaned back and placed his feet on his desk.

The Red Light Tower was where prostitution was legal in New Delta, but not gambling. Gambling was only legal in an adjacent tower which housed a city-run casino, the only legal casino. Since collecting taxes was near impossible due to the city layout and the fact no-one knew exactly how many organisms lived in it, the casino was a huge source of revenue. This meant that Timothy was gambling illegally, probably with criminal element. Since he never said how did and the bank balance never changed, it probably meant he was losing money and getting loans to cover it up.

“Did he say who he was gambling with?” Alfonso asked.

“Not much, but I did once over hear a conversation with a friend about a bunch of Avians in the lower level.”

Alfonso stood up. “I think I know where your husband is, if he’s still alive, and I should have him by tomorrow evening.”

***

So that brought Alfonso to the Avian Flail, the only Avian BSDM club around.

Just because Timothy was there, didn’t mean that place didn’t creep him out. Alfonso stuck with elven hookers and as far away from BSDM as he could, he didn’t need more pain after his job.

Alfonso placed his hands on the receptionist’s desk and leaned in. “Look, I’m here to retrieve him on account of his wife.”

She glared at him. “There is no Timothy Barbaro here.”

He pulled his pistol out of his vest and pointed it at her. “Tell me where he is.”

“All I have to do is scream and ten avians with flails will come running and you’ll end up worse that him…” She covered her mouth.

Alfonso took off running down the hall to the back, out of the first door stepped a bright green avian. Alfonso was going to try to tackle it (Avian gender was near impossible to determine at a glance) but it pointed into the room.

There was Timothy, hung up via chains, naked, and nasty busies and lacerations covered him from head to toe. Alfonso would have guess he was dead, except for the fact that his chest moved up and down as he breathed.

“Lost. 50k Dinari. Lent. Money. No. Pay. Make. Pay,” the Avian squawked.

Alfonso sheathed his pistol. “Did you work out a payment plan?”

“Yes but. Hacked Bank. Last. Week. Had. Enough. To. Pay. No. Need to. Even lend.”

Alfonso felt a chill run down his spine. He was not just dealing with the club any more, but the extremely dangerous Avian Mafia, and an extremely cheap compulsive gambler. Timothy had the money to pay, but didn’t want his creditors to know, so he had the mob lend him his losses and pay it back over time.

“Do you have a screen I could use. I need to contact his wife.”

“Poi. No Allow. Police. May find.”

“Don’t worry,” Alfonso said. “If you let me, I may get out of your feathers.”

“Fine.”

The avian led him to another room with a screen where he sat down and contacted Janice and told her the details.

Janice got very red and started to shake. “That fucking stupid bastard. Why—why—We had the money, if he’d only—“ She bit her fist. “Let him rot. Leave him and I’ll transfer the money shortly.”

Alfonso sat back. “Really? You could just transfer the Dinari to the mob and be done. I’ll only charge 10k extra for my services.”

Tears started to form at the corners of her eyes. “We had threesomes…”

Alfonso nodded. He understood. Relationships were built on trust. Timothy broke that trust, and therefore the relationship was over.

Alfonso walked out of the room and told the green avian, “He’s all yours. He’s not worth my time.”

Alfonso felt sort of sleazy for leaving a man to die, but what was the point of saving a man who wouldn’t save himself?

If you really want to read the Cybermagic novels, you can find them at the of the K23 Detectives Three Pack with Bonus Novels. Until 10/7 if you use code BF57Q at the link above, you’ll get 33% off.

Other Random Stories

Human Trek

I won a small contest with this several years ago. This is my only story to feature outright “explicit” sex, but remember, this is a Star Trek parody.

Captain James R. Marshall sat on the bridge of the U.S.S. Dave Harvey.

“Ensign Juan, status report.”

Juan turned around to face the captain. “Sir, we have entered the female vessel Clarissa’s territory.”

“On screen.” The screen on the front of the bridge lit up to show Clarissa, a tall voluptuous brunette, holding the ship. Her lips started to move. “Lieutenant Ellen, open a communications channel.”

Lieutenant Ellen, who was sitting at a console next to Juan, pressed some buttons and Clarissa’s voice came over the loudspeakers.

“Dave, I love you. You’re the nicest guy I’ve ever known.”

“Ellen,” James said, “tell her that we love her too.”

Ellen pushed some buttons and the ship’s voice said, “I love you too.”

Clarissa moved forward and kissed the ship. The bridge rumbled as her tongue explored Dave’s mouth.

A voice came out of a speaker in the captain’s chair. Mouth Attendant Michaels spoke, “Captain, Clarissa’s mouth attendant shouted over that they want to sex have with us. They say she is on the pill.”

James looked over at his first mate, Ben. “Should we?”

Ben laughed. “Of course. It’s been a year since we last had sex.”

James nodded. “Tell them yes.”

“Will do sir, Michaels out.”

James pressed a button. “Red Alert! All hands prepare to score. I repeat, all hands prepare to score!”

The bridge glowed red and sirens blared.

Dave and Clarissa maneuvered into her bedroom.

“Juan, lay her on the bed.”  Dave did just that. “Now remove her clothing.”

Dave took off her blouse but seemed to stall on the bra.

“Captain, the bra is tough to remove.”

Ellen leaned over. “Let a woman do this.” She pressed some buttons on Juan’s console and the bra unclasped and was removed. Once Clarissa was naked, she started to pull down Dave’s pants.

“Commence erection,” James shouted. He watched as a little penis extended on his console.

Once the ship was naked, they heard Clarissa say, “Fuck me, Dave, I’ve waiting for this moment since I first met you.”

Ben leaned over. “Shouldn’t we engage in foreplay first? A little oral sex?”

“There’s no time for that, Ben, she wants our cock in her now! Ensign Juan prepare for the missionary position sequence!” The ship moved into position. “Ellen, make sure grunting is at a minimum.”

“Yes, Captain,” Ellen said.

“Commence thrusting!”

The crew held on as the bridge vibrated violently. After a few moments it became hot and steamy. The engineer’s voice came over the speakers. ”Captain, the hips are stressed and ready to give out. We’re running out of power!”

“Divert all power to the hips, we cannot fail this mission!”

“We’re giving it all we’ve got,” the engineer shouted.

Suddenly the consoles started to spark and smoke, the screen started to fade white.

“All hands brace for ejaculation!”

The ship bucked violently and the bridge crew went flying out of their chairs on the floor. After a few moments of cooling, James crawled back into the chair. “Status report.”

The screen showed them lying in bed. Clarissa, in a post-orgasmic glow, was caressing the ship’s face.  James smiled. “Mission accomplished.” Cheering came over the speakers as the bridge crew sighed relief.

“Dave, you were wonderful,” Clarissa communicated.

“Ensign Juan, pull her close,” James said.

The ship’s arms surrounded her and pulled her closer. Clarissa laid her head on a shoulder, and shut her eyes.

James stood. “Put the ship to sleep, we did well tonight!”

Other Random Stories

Death by Slots

Final Story in Death by Trilogy. First is Death by Snood second is Death By Sudoku. Written in June 2006.

“Go ahead, Mister Duncan… pull the lever.”

FBI Special Agent Charles Duncan stared at the Lucky Sevens slot machine as the Puzzle Bomber looked intently at him.

It had finally come to this. They were standing in an old chemical factory, on a grated walkway, near a giant vat of acid, fifteen feet above which was hanging the bound-and-gagged form of Marlene Davis, Charles’s co-worker and now love interest.

It had been several months since the Puzzle Bomber had trapped Charles in an abandoned toy factory and tortured him with a giant Sudoku game. There, Charles had managed to confront his nemesis face-to-face, but the Bomber had escaped.

In the intervening months, he had tried to find the Bomber, since his real identity was known, but the Bomber proved as elusive as ever and seemed to be laying low,  as  he usually did.  Surprisingly, however, the Bomber (real name Mark Watkins) had slipped to the back of his mind, as he took up a romance with Marlene, a co-worker who had helped him on a Bomber case before being assigned elsewhere.

Then, the previous night, he had gotten a call from the Bomber, saying that he had kidnapped Marlene from her apartment, that he was holding her hostage, and that Charles had to come to the factory alone. Suddenly all the rage, all the determination that had spurred Charles to find his nemesis returned, and there they were.

Charles scowled. “What’s the trick this time?”

The Bomber nodded. “No trick. Simply pull the lever, and we’ll decide your lover’s fate.”

Charles drew his gun and pointed it at the Bomber. “There’s no payout sign anywhere on the machine. How do I know you won’t just make up the odds?”

“Have I ever done anything like that?” The Bomber extracted a piece of paper from his pocket and handed it to Charles.

Charles put his gun away and looked at it. As with all slot machines, there was always a house edge. The most common payout, three cherries, meant both Marlene and Charles would die; three lemons meant just Marlene would die. Three bells meant Marlene would drop a foot and Charles could spin again. Three bars meant Marlene would go free, but so would the Bomber. Finally, three lucky sevens, the most uncommon, meant Marlene would go free and the Bomber would turn himself in. No payout meant Charles would spin again.

Odds like this made Charles’s adrenaline rush. Games and puzzles in which the outcome netted real-world consequences. The next game, the next rush… that was what had driven Charles for fifteen years. The Bomber wanted to finish their little mind-game, Charles knew it, and so the Bomber had picked a game of pure chance to taunt him with his girlfriend’s life on the line.

Charles looked up at Marlene. She stared down at him, with fear in her eyes. He took a deep breath, reached out, took the knob in his fist, and pulled the lever. The reels began to spin. Two cherries put him on edge, but a bell made him sigh relief.

“Again,” the Bomber said.

Charles pulled. Three bells. The mechanical winch rumbled; Marlene let out a muffled shriek as she lowered a foot. She was now fourteen feet above the acid.

“Again,” the Bomber said.

Three bells. Thirteen feet.

Again.”

Three bells. Twelve feet.

Charles pulled out his gun again. “You rigged the machine!”

The Bomber sighed. “I haven’t rigged the machine at all.”

Charles squinted at what he could see of the reels, and then he realized the order of the payouts on the sheet did not correspond to the reels. There were mostly bells on them.

Rage filled Charles. The Bomber played by the rules, all right – his rules. Rules designed to madden, and throw you off. There was a twisted genius in the insanity.

“Pull the lever, Mr. Duncan,” the Bomber said.

Charles pulled. One seven. A second seven. The reel slowed; he could tell it would stop one symbol past the seven. He remembered something Marlene said a few months back, after the toy factory incident: “It doesn’t hurt to cheat!”

Charles fired a shot into the machine, forcing the machine to stop the reel on the third seven. The slot machine buzzed and whirred; the winch moved Marlene out from over the acid and began to lower her to the floor.

“You cheated!” The Bomber jumped up and down in anger.

“I know I did. And it’s about time.”

The Bomber backed up along the walkway. “I’m not going to turn myself in! I won’t! You cheated!

Charles pulled the safety back. “And you don’t? All these years you fudged the rules to suit your own ends. Either you win, or if you lose, you still win. Why can’t we play one game by my rules?”

“Because I’m the master and you are the player!” The Bomber seemed to palm something. “The game’s not over till I say it is!”

Charles pulled the trigger.

The Puzzle Bomber fell over, dead.

“Game Over!”

An anti-climatic end for sure, but strangely, kind of fitting. Charles had always fantasized that the Bomber would die at the end of a climatic bare-knuckled brawl inside some strange game of his, but in the end, the Bomber had died simply and cleanly with a gunshot to the forehead. How ironic.

Charles pocketed the throwing star in the Bomber’s hand, and then shut his eyelids.  He’d call in the boys to pick up the corpse soon.

Charles then walked down off the walkway and untied Marlene. She immediately hugged him tightly. “Now that he’s dead,” she whispered, “let’s get married and take a honeymoon in Las Vegas.”

Charles chuckled. “Still as funny as ever… but I think I’ll stay away from games for now. I’ve had enough to last a lifetime.” He kissed her. “Let me call the office and then we’ll go home.”

The game was now finished but, while there should a have been a hole in his life where the Bomber was, there was only peace. Now he would marry Marlene, settle down and father a child or two – his rightful reward for a game well played.

The Bomber would fade away into history, brought up in criminal justice classes once in a while, but still games would always be played, as they were indeed serious business, but not too serious, not ever again.

___

I ever reset and revisit this story, it’ll only be in the form of an Interactive Fiction, as it should be!

Other Random Stories

Death by Sudoku

This is the second of the Death by Trilogy, written in February 2006. The first is Death by Snood, third is Death by Slots.

Special agent Charles Duncan awoke to find himself in a chair in a small square room with concrete walls and flooring. In front of him was a table upon which was placed laptop with a cable running into a wall, a sandwich and a bottle of water.

His head was pounding, so he took the bottle and started to gulp it when a soft, soothing voice said, “I wouldn’t waste it, Mr. Duncan, because that’s all you’re going to get.”

Charles spit some of it back into the bottle and coughed. He started to remember what happened.

He had gotten an anonymous tip as to the whereabouts of the Puzzle Bomber, the crazed genius who held the world hostage via sadistic games, whom he had been chasing for fourteen years. The Bomber had lain quiet since he hooked a game of snood up to a nuclear bomb in Los Angeles the spring before.

The tip, given by a distorted voice who he now knew was the Bomber himself, told him to go an abandoned toy factory on the outskirts of Baltimore. Although his colleagues had suggested back-up, he insisted to go alone. The Bomber was going to be his catch, and his alone. He was walking through an old assembly line when he was hit from behind and blacked out.

Maybe he should have accepted backup.

Charles looked around the room but saw nothing except a door and a small camera and speaker in one corner of the ceiling. He felt his coat pocket and found that his badge and gun were gone.

“Who are you?” Charles asked.

“You know who I am, Mr. Duncan.”

“The Puzzle Bomber?”

“The one and only,” The Bomber said.

Charles stood. “You’ve made a mistake revealing yourself.”

The bomber chuckled. “I have made many mistakes in my life, but when it comes to games, I don’t make mistakes.”
”You have crawled out of the shadows,” Charles called.

“Look around, Mr. Duncan. I’m not the one stuck in a room with only a little food and water and in order to leave, must solve the puzzle on the laptop. There is no time limit, no bombs if you fail. You can try as many times as you like, you just stay here till you do.”

Charles sat back down and clicked the laptop on. The screen showed a grid of nine squares divided into nine little squares. In a few of the little squares, there were numbers. He recognized it as a Sudoku puzzle, the latest fad in puzzles.

A book of Sudoku was on the bestsellers list. Every newspaper had one a day… Charles was also a fan of it. In order to win, in each large square, each little square must have one through nine, non-repeating. To complicate things, each column and row must have one through nine, non-repeating.

“The will be easy,” Charles said.

“Oh really?”

“Yes.”

He cracked his knuckles and within ten minutes, the puzzle was solved. He heard the door unlock.

Charles laughed. “It was too easy.”

“I guess it was, Mr. Duncan,” the Bomber said.

Charles ate the sandwich, which was peanut butter and jelly, and finished the water. He brushed himself off and triumphantly strode through the door into the next room, where his heart sunk to his toes.

This room was much larger than last. On the floor was a Sudoku grid with some numbers filled in. Placed on the wall were nine sets of plastic ones through nines. There were two doors out of this room.

“You bastard,” Charles yelled. “You said I could leave!”

“I never said that you’d be done if you won, Mr. Duncan. I only said that you could leave that particular room. Now, solve this puzzle.”

He grumbled and started to walk over towards the wall of numbers, but he stopped. How many games would he have to play?

“Why are you doing this?” Charles ripped off his coat and flung it across the room.

“Because you wanted me to, Mr. Duncan.” Charles clenched his teeth and fists. “Why are you mad Mr. Duncan? I know you’ve wanted to have a showdown with me for years, man to man, a test of wits, just like in thrillers, Mr. Duncan.”

“Fuck you,” Charles muttered.

The Bomber laughed. “I’ve been watching you, Mr. Duncan. I’ve watched your life spiral downward as I’ve consumed your every waking moment. Your wife divorced you because you spent more time playing games than playing with her in bed. You do nothing else except train yourself to play my puzzles, beat me for the last time, but I’m always one step ahead of you. You live for the next puzzle I present and nothing else.

I remember the rage in you when your partner failed to triple-A Legend of the Max by one arrow and the Dance, Dance, Revolution machine exploded, taking him with it. I know that when that hick solved the game of Snood last spring, you weren’t satisfied because I was still at large.

So here we are: you and me in a giant game of Sudoku. This is what you wanted, have always wanted, so don’t be mad at me for giving you what you want, Mr. Duncan.”

Charles slowly looked up at the place the voice was coming from. “Who are you?” Charles yelled.

Despite the Bomber getting inside his head, Charles knew very little about who he actually was, other than being a very smart male. The Bomber always had always stayed hidden in plain sight, always placing his puzzles in public areas, but no one remembering to have seen him.

“Why does it matter, Mr. Duncan?” the Bomber replied. “To me, it’s not about recognition; otherwise, I’d have left little clues to my identity at the scenes. To me, this is about discovery the true nature of games and puzzles… You know, I’ve changed my mind, we’re not going to play this game.” A door to Charles’s left unlocked.

Charles turned and just looked at door dumbfounded. The Bomber has never shut off a puzzle in the middle of it.

“Go ahead, Mr. Duncan, go through. Don’t worry; there is a puzzle on the other side. However, I should say its different kind of puzzle.”

Charles muttered under his breath as he slowly walked through the unlocked doorway.

The next room was a small rectangle. In front of him were three doors, painted red, blue and green.

Charles flailed his arms around. “What the hell is this? You’ve lost your touch, Bomber.”

“Have I? I created this in the instance you didn’t want to play the giant Sudoku puzzle, which I figured you would have. A pity, really, because the other door was the exit. In fact that puzzle was even easier than the one you actually solved.” The Bomber had not lost his touch.

Charles turned around to see the he came in through slam shut and lock. He slowly turned back to the three doors.

The Bomber continued, “Here you have a choice, Mr. Duncan. One door leads to the exit. Another door leads to a game of minesweeper with real mines and the final door leads to where I am.” Charles scratched his head. “But to complicate things, I’ll tell you which door leads where. The red door leads to Minesweeper, the blue door is the exit and the green door leads to me. I don’t lie, so which one will you choose? Will you leave to face me another day? Will you play another one of my games? Or will you finally find out who I am? Choose wisely.”

Charles thought hard, this was not an easy choice. He loved the games and the trill, the Bomber was right, he decided. Charles was also tired and wanted to leave. The Puzzle Bomber, though, was there and just beyond the green door. Despite not having is didn’t have his gun, backup, or even handcuff, the green door beckoned. He would finally meet his rival.

Charles opened the green door and stepped through into a dusty stair case, the door locked as it shut. He slowly walked up and into a large room.

In the center of it was a chess table with two chairs. Shelves lined the walls filled with puzzles and games of various types. Sitting in back at a large computer console, was a short, stout, man in his late forties. He was wearing a lab coat with a flower in it and glasses. He spun around, stood and motioned to the chess table.

“Let us play,” the Bomber said.

Charles nodded and sat down across from the Bomber.

“You are white,” the Bomber said. “Begin.”

Charles said nothing and moved his King’s pawn out two squares.

After a few minutes of playing in silence, the Bomber spoke, “I love chess. I think it’s the perfect game.” He moved, Charles moved. “Two sides of equal pieces. The rules are simple, each piece moves in a particular way. The Knight moves in an L shape. The bishop moves diagonally. The pawn moves one or two spaces to start; then one space along the column; and diagonally to capture. But yet, with-in its simple elegance is an endless complexity that I love.” The Bomber moved.

Charles moved a knight, and then stared directly at the Bomber. “Why do you do this? How do you even get the money for to do the things you do?”

“My family owned this factory and made a fair bit of money when they sold out to a conglomerate. I was an only child and inherited millions. I have it invested well and it’s more than enough to pay for this hobby.” The bomber moved.

Charles slammed his fist down, the pieces jumped off the table. “How is this a hobby? How is holding people hostage, setting up sadistic games a hobby?”

The Bomber adjusted his glasses. “I’m sorry; to me this isn’t a hobby. But to most people games are a hobby, a diversion. I want to make people treat then as more than just a diversion. Oh, by the way, that last move was check mate.”

“What?” Charles looked down at the board. Check mate.

He screamed, knocked the table over, grabbed and started to choke the bomber. “I’ll kill you!”

“Go ahead,” the Bomber wheezed, “Kill me, and your life will be empty.” He kicked Charles in the balls. “You need me.”

Charles stumbled back. The Bomber’s flower squirted water into Charles’s eye and he tripped over his chair and was stunned.

The Bomber ran over to the shelf. “From now on, you will follow my rules or pay the consequences, Mr. Duncan. Good day.”

He pulled something and the shelf rotated around, and the Bomber was gone. Charles stood and flung stuff off the shelf, but nothing seemed to make it move.

The Bomber, who was in his grasp, had escaped. Charles found his gun and badge on a shelf, and pressed a button on the console that unlocked all the doors. He would bring agents over here to search this place completely tomorrow.

He walked out of the factory to his car to find another agent had arrived, a woman in a familiar black pants suit that he had not seen in months.

“Marlene?” Charles said. “I though you worked in Los Angeles.” Charles had worked with her on the Snood case.

“I did,” she said, “but I transferred out here last week. I didn’t have time to say hello. Some agents told me you went here alone, I decided to follow. Anyway, what happened in there? You look exhausted.”

He turned back around to look at the factory. “I faced down The Puzzle Bomber in his hideout. He’s as insane as you’d expect.”

“Where is he?” Marlene asked.

“I don’t know. He escaped.”

Marlene put her hands on her hips. “I didn’t see anyone drive out of here.”

“I’m sure he’s smart enough to figure out a way to get out unnoticed. He has many times before.”

“Well if you decide to go off to play his games again, take me with you.”

Charles closed his eyes and nodded. “Thanks, but I have enough information about him now to track him down myself. Besides, this is a game for me to play alone. I’ll keep playing till I win”

“That may be so,” Marlene smiled, “but it can’t hurt to cheat.”

Other Random Stories

Death By Snood

This is a short story I wrote for the one creative writing class I ever took in 2005, hence many of you may not know what Snood was as its popularity has faded. This was also before my writing style matured, so its wordier than usual. There are two sequels to this, Death by Sudoku and  Death by Slots,

Bobbi Sue Jenkins sat in her non-air-conditioned living room in her small house in Gurley, Alabama, playing Snood. The scalp beneath her dirty blond hair itched, and her pants stuck to her legs. She swatted a fly and took another drink of her Diet Coke before continuing.

Gurley was a small town: nothing more than a gas station, a few stores, and lots and lots of farmland. Bobbi Sue was born and raised in Gurley. She had an abusive father who routinely beat her mother, ran off with a waitress when she was seven, and returned after a few years claiming he had found God. She dropped out of school at sixteen and married a local boy named Harry who worked as a mechanic. It was a shotgun wedding since he had impregnated her in the back of a pick-up. Harry worked while she took care of the kids and the small, badly battered house.

Their fourteen-year-old daughter Mildred was in constant danger of following in her mother’s footsteps because all the local boys kept trying to screw her, but Bobbi Sue kept a close eye on her and took no dirt. Their seven-year-old son Ricky liked to run around with the BB gun Harry had given him for Christmas one year and shoot squirrels and chipmunks. Their four-year-old daughter Evelyn was too young to go to school so she spent her days riding her tricycle around the badly-mowed lawn and playing with hand-me-down dolls in hand-me-down dresses.

Bobbi Sue had discovered Snood by accident, one afternoon two years earlier. It was one of the few games she could play on her ancient computer that Harry got for cheap at a yard sale. It was immediately addicting, and gave her a release from her miserable life. She was not going anywhere, and her good looks had faded into cellulite and stretch marks years before. Despite her efforts it wouldn’t be long before Mildred was impregnated by boys who grew up like Ricky, and the cycle would repeat for Evelyn as well. Harry would often go out and come home piss drunk after a night of hard drinking, and hit her in a drunken rage. Bobbi Sue loved him when he was sober, but when drunk, Harry was an unbearable monster.

“Darlin’, I promise you that we will do better in life and move out of this stinking town,” he would often say to her, but it would never come. The money that they would need to move always went towards his expensive bar tab.

Long ago, she had stopped going to church and praying to a God who did not seem to care about her or her family. She looked at her neighbors and wondered why they kept going, because their lives had not improved.

So she sat in her hot living room, flinging colored boxes upon colored boxes all day long. She hoped being the 3rd top scorer would get her somewhere, but it seemed to all be in vain.

A few hours earlier, FBI Special Agent Charles Duncan pulled up to the makeshift checkpoint outside the entrance to an underground parking garage, beneath the Century Plaza Towers in Los Angeles. He flashed his badge and drove down to the fourth level. The parking lot was near-empty except for the camp of FBI agents and Bomb Squad personnel surrounding a large U-Haul moving van. The coffee he had on the plane was wearing off and he would need to re-caffeinate himself soon: he had a long day ahead of him, and it was only 9 AM PST. He looked in the mirror, adjusted his tie, patted down his brown mustache, and got out of his rented black sedan. A young female agent with jet black hair and a matching pant suit spotted him and ran over.

“Are you the agent from the Washington Bureau we’ve been waiting for?”

“Yes I am. I’m Charles Duncan,” and he flashed his badge.

“I’m Marlene Davis with the Los Angeles Field Office, nice to meet you.” They shook hands.

“What do you have? The chief called me at 10 last night and said that I would be on the next flight out to Los Angeles because this involved the Puzzle Bomber.”

“I think you have to take a look at this.”

The Puzzle Bomber was a notorious criminal mastermind. He would place bombs where the solution would be to play his games or puzzles that were near unbeatable. Some of the smartest minds in the world had died at his hand, and yet no one knew who or where he was. Some people who had seen him said he wore joke glasses or was dressed up as a scientist. All Charles knew was that he was a crazed genius and a very dangerous man.

Charles had first heard of the Puzzle Bomber in 1992, when as a young agent, he and his partner were sent to a stadium where the Puzzle Bomber had set up a Nintendo playing Battletoads. In order to disarm the bomb, one had to beat the game on one life and no continues, a feat considered impossible. They had to fly in developers from England to do it.

Then a few years later, Charles lost his partner when he failed to triple-A “the Legend of Max”, the hardest song on a rigged Dance Dance Revolution machine. Ever since, Charles burned with a passion to personally catch and kill the Puzzle Bomber, no matter what the cost.

Charles and Marlene walked over the moving van and looked in the back. Inside was a foldout card table with a laptop on it. The laptop was attached to a large metal cylinder: a nuclear bomb.

“Can I take a look?”

“Sure, but be careful.”

He climbed up and looked at the laptop.

On the screen was a game. At the top of the screen were various rows of colored boxes. In the middle of the screen was a thick yellow line. On the bottom there was an arrow and next to it was another colored box. He pressed the arrow keys left and right and the arrow moved. He was about to press the spacebar when Marlene interrupted from outside the van.

“Don’t press the fire key; we only have one try left, then the bomb will explode. The game starts when you press that spacebar.”

Charles turned around.

“What?”

“We only have one try left. Our agents used up the other two.”

Charles walked out.

“All right, I won’t. What is the game?”

“It’s where you shoot the box on the bottom to the corresponding box on the top, removing both boxes from play. The game is won when all the boxes are removed. You lose when the boxes hit the line – “

“I can guess that, but what’s it called?”

“Commercial names include Bust-a-move and Snood; it’s a pretty popular puzzle game type. My sister is addicted to Snood.”

Charles scratched his mustache.

“Well, can we get her to beat the game?”

“I never said she was very good at it. She loses as often as she wins.”

“Can we disable the bomb? I was once able to disconnect a bomb from a mahjong board without blowing it up.”

“No, the bomb has a trigger in it that is wired to go off if the laptop disconnects. We also are working against the laptop’s battery, which will explode the bomb if it runs out of charge.”

“How much time do we have left?”

“It’s a special extra-long lasting battery, so we have about twelve hours.”

“Is there a box of wires?”

“No, it’s all one solid piece.”

“Well, I guess we will have to play the game, then, or millions will die. I remember once when the Puzzle Bomber wired a bomb to a chessboard and set it to go off if white won in a match between Garry Kasparov and Michael Prusikin at the U.S Open in 2002. Kasparov was white.”

‘Wow, what happened?” Marlene asked.

“We set up Deep Blue for a rematch and it kicked Kasparov’s ass, fortunately. Unfortunately for us, we may not have that option here. Do we have anyone who is good enough to beat it?”

“No, the two agents who play got their butts kicked here. We contacted the people who make Snood, and they gave us a list of the top scorers in the world. Mike, come here and bring the score list.”

A large man walked over carrying a sheet of paper.

“Tell him what you found,” Marlene said.

“Well,” Mike began, “the top scorer lives in Sweden, the second top scorer lives in Singapore. The third scorer is a woman named Bobbi Sue Jenkins and she lives in a backwater town in Alabama.”

“Good, tell the office in Mobile to get their asses out there and pick her up and fly her out here pronto, we have no time to lose.”

Back in Gurley, Evelyn ran onto the porch and into the living room.

“Ma, Ma, vans are pulling up the drive way!”

“What in blazes – “ Bobbi Sue jumped up and ran outside.

Two black vans with FBI painted on the side were rolling up the driveway.

“I told your sister not to hang around those fucking meth dealers. Go inside.”

Bobbi Sue ran inside and pulled the loaded shotgun off the mantle piece, then ran on the porch and watched as the van stopped in front.

A black man in a suit and sunglasses got out and stood at the foot of the porch.

“Are you Bobbi Sue Jenkins?”

“Yeah, I am. What do you want?”

“I’m Special Agent Edward Jackson with the Mobile Branch of the FBI. We need you to come with us,” and he flashed his badge.

She pointed her gun. Other agents near the van put their hands in their jackets.

“I didn’t do anything, ya hear! If this is about those drug dealers who hang out with my daughter, the police know about ‘em.”
“Put the gun down, you’re not in trouble and neither is anyone you know. We need your help.”

She lowered her gun.

“What? What would the FBI want with a hick woman like me?”

“I know this sounds strange, but we need your Snood-playing abilities. Millions of lives depend on it.”

“Well, you don’t hear that every day. What’s in it for me?”
“Service to your country and a nice fat reward,” Edward said.

“How much?”

“Thirty million. We would pay you a lot less, but the importance of your service warrants it in this case.”

“Well now, that sounds like a sweet deal, but what am I gonna do with my family?”

“We have already notified your husband and the schools your kids attend.”

“What about my youngest daughter who is sitting in the house? Where is she gonna go?

Edward motioned and a teenage girl got out of the van. Bobbi Sue recognized her as Toby from down the street.

“Hiya Mrs. Jenkins,” Toby said.

“This girl said she babysat for you before.”

“She sure did. Are you gonna watch her real good ‘till Harry gits home?”

“I will,” Toby said.

“Evelyn!” Bobbi Sue screamed into the house.

Evelyn came out onto the porch.

“You gonna go with Toby now, momma needs to do somethin’ important by herself.”

“Yes momma,” Evelyn said.

Bobbi Sue kissed her and then Evelyn jumped off the porch, and she and Toby walked off down the street toward Toby’s house.

“Well, now that everything’s set, let me change into somethin’ better.”

“Ten minutes,” Edward said, “We don’t have much time to waste.”

Bobbi Sue ran into the house, took a quick shower, threw on her best dress, put on makeup and ran out, all in ten minutes.

She got into the back of one of the vans and they pulled out. Edward sat in the back with her.

“So, what’s happenin’ that you need someone to play Snood to save lives?”

Edward explained to her about the Puzzle Bomber and the bomb connected to Snood.

Eventually, they pulled into a local airfield where a private jet was waiting.

“I’m staying here, an agent will meet you in Los Angeles,” Edward said.

“Wow, I never flew before. Good day.”

Bobbi Sue got out and walked onto the jet and into the small passenger area. There were only a few leather seats, a cooler with drinks and snacks, and a screen up at the front for movies.
“We’ll be on our way immediately, the clock is ticking and it’s a three-hour flight,” the pilot said.

She sat down and buckled up, and the plane taxied to the runway. Bobbi Sue gripped the armrests tightly as the plane took off.

Charles Duncan leaned on his sedan, waiting for the plane to land at a local airfield. It was now late afternoon and there was not much time left, two hours at most. He was not sure if this woman would be able to save them, but he really did not have much choice now. Marlene offered to drive but he said no, this was a pickup he could do himself. He knew Los Angeles from when he stationed there a few years before. The FBI had evacuated the surrounding streets, but trying to evacuate the entire city would have been a logistical nightmare, so they decided against it, therefore the traffic would be bad.

The plane landed and the hatch opened. Bobbi Sue got out and looked around, bewildered at the strange surroundings. Charles walked up.

“Are you Mrs. Jenkins?”

“Yeah, I am.”

“I’m Charles Duncan, special agent with the FBI, and in charge of hunting down the Puzzle Bomber. Please come this way, it’s a forty-minute drive to the towers and traffic is bad.”

They got in the car. Charles put a siren on the dashboard, and they drove off.

On the way, Bobbi Sue looked out the window, marveling at the skyscrapers and the large amount of people.

“This is a neat place. I’ll have to come back someday –  I never traveled outside my town.”

“Los Angeles is a great city; however, it may be gone in a few hours thanks to the Puzzle Bomber.”

“I’ll try my best,” Bobbi Sue said.

“Well, I’m sorry to say this, but you need to be perfect, otherwise, we’re all dead.”

Bobbi Sue put her hand to her chest to find her heart was pounding.

“It’s a lot of pressure to put on a woman so quick, ya know?” Bobbi Sue said.

“I wish it could be different, but it can’t. I wish I had something better to tell you.”

“It’s all right; my life’s not worth much anyway,” Bobbi Sue muttered.

They squealed into the parking lot and slid into a spot behind the camp. Charles opened the door for Bobbi Sue.

“This way,” Charles said, and they walked to the truck and got in the back.

A tarp was now over the entrance and a light, folding chair and bottle of water had been put inside.

“Everything should be self-explanatory to you: arrow keys to move, space to fire.”

“I think I got it.”

“Don’t let us down, it’s on Armageddon level,” and he left, leaving her alone.

Bobbi Sue sat down in the chair, wiped her brow and took a slip of water. Her heart was pounding and her mind raced. She closed her eyes and counted to ten. Then she decided to pray. If there was a god, now was the time to ask for his guidance.

“Oh Lord,” she prayed aloud, “Please help me win this game and save this city and all its inhabitants. Amen!”

Bobbi Sue took a deep breath and started to play.

Her heart pounded and her sweaty finger worked as her mind concentrated. The outside world ceased to exist. At first it was easy for her, erasing row after row of colored blocks, but then the block ceiling started to collapse and she got a bad series of blocks which pushed her farther up to the line. It finally came down to four blocks stacked two by two with only two rows to the yellow line: two green on the top, and a red and a blue block on the bottom.

She got a green box and eliminated the green from the board. The she got a red block and knocked it into place eliminating red, but there was another red block in the queue. She put it next to the blue as it went down to one line (Blue Red)! Another blue next to the other blue eliminated the pair, but there was another one in the queue. She pushed next it to the red (Red Blue), then another blue, then another blue then another red, then a final blue. The board was now clear.

The screen went blank, and then white letters proclaimed “Bomb has been disarmed.” The laptop turned off.  Bobbi Sue had saved Los Angeles.

Bobbi Sue shut the laptop, sat back and sighed. A wave of relief washed over her body and she took a drink of water. Then she got up and looked out of the truck. Everyone was completely silent and staring at her.

After a few awkward seconds, Bobbi Sue yelled, “Hey y’all; the bomb’s been disarmed!”

The room erupted into cheers. She got down and shook Charles’s hand.

“I know you could do it!”

Then she saw Marlene handing her a cell phone.

“It’s the governor.”

Bobbi Sue put the phone to her ear.

“Mrs. Jenkins?”

“Yeah?”

“This is governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and, on behalf on the citizens of the State of California, I would like to thank you for your brave service today in saving the great city of Los Angeles.”

“How come you couldn’t do this? I’ve seen you do this in movies.”

“I was just acting, but you; you are a real heroine.”

“Thanks, Arn –  I mean, Governor Schwarzenegger.”

Marlene took the phone, and a cameraman and reporter ran up.

“Mrs. Jenkins, this is Tanya Santos with Channel 7 news, what was it like saving the city?”

“Intense.”

“I’m sure. Do you have anything you would like to say?”

“I’d like to say hello to my husband Harry and my children Mildred, Ricky and Evelyn.”

“That’s enough; I’ll be willing to issue an official statement later,” Charles said and shooed them off.

“Now, where’s some dinner, I’m hungry and tired.”

“We’ll get you dinner, but I have President Bush on the other line,” Marlene said.

Later, Charles Duncan slowly sipped his beer on the red-eye back to D.C. He would get a few days off, then go back to work. He was disappointed that the Puzzle Bomber was still out there, planning his next move. There would be more games and puzzles in the future, Charles could be sure of that; but one day he would see the Puzzle Bomber brought to justice. Today though, Los Angeles had been saved, and it had been done by an unlikely heroine. He could at least celebrate that.

—-

A van pulled into Bobbi Sue’s driveway in the dead of night. The house was dark except for the living room and porch. Harry stood on the porch, holding a bottle of whiskey. Bobbi Sue exited the van and it pulled away. Harry walked off the porch in a drunken swagger.

“Hey darlin’, I saw you on TV saving LA,” Harry slur said with a drunken slur.

Bobbi Sue grabbed the whiskey bottle and smashed it on the ground. Harry’s face turned red.

“What did ya do that f’r, woman?!” Harry screamed. He pulled back his fist, ready to punch her. Bobbi Sue grabbed his face and pulled him forward. Harry went limp in her grasp.

“I made thirty million dollars today and the money is sittin’ in an account under my name. If you ever hit me again, ever, your ass will be sitting on the street without me or the kids because I don’t need ya money anymore. I love you but I’m not gonna stand here and watch you piss away our life by gettin’ drunk every night and hittin’ me. I’m your wife, not a punchin’ bag, and you’re gonna treat me like your wife from this second forward.

We’re rich now, and you’re gonna act like the gentleman, father and husband I know you can be, and you can start by stoppin’ drinkin’. We’re gonna make something of ourselves and if you don’t wanna, you can pack your bags and leave, because I’m taking the kids out of this shit town to let them grow up right! Ya hear?”

“That sounds great, my darlin’,” Harry squeaked, the blood drained from his face.

Bobbi Sue let go and Harry stumbled back.

“Now git in the house. I’ll repeat what I said in the morning if ya happen to be too drunk to remember.”

Harry scurried inside. Bobbi Sue stood there for a minute, then she wiped the tears from her eyes and went inside.

Finally, her life would start to change for the better.

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