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Remote Access

 

Remote Access

By Cory Camalari

Copyright 2015 Cory Camalari

Shakespir Edition

 

Thank you for downloading this ebook. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy from their favorite authorized retailer.

 

Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

 

Contents

Chapter 1 Unreliable Narrator

Chapter 2 Jake, Cousin, and Sister

Chapter 3 Crazy Guy

Chapter 4 Ellie’s Dilemma

Chapter 5 Allan’s Adventure

Chapter 6 Unreliable Me

Chapter 7 Jewelry Store

Chapter 8 Allan and Ellie

Chapter 9 Old Man

Chapter 10 Happenings

Chapter 11 Motel Room

Chapter 12 Silverstone and Crum

Chapter 13 Secrets

Chapter 14 Lucy

Chapter 15 Buddha Trek

Chapter 16 Reality Swap

Chapter 17 Wentworth and Anjawon

Chapter 18 Becoming

Chapter 19 Dr. Jody Sparks

Chapter 20 Hiding Out

Chapter 21 Jake, Cousin, and Red

Chapter 22 Mine

Chapter 23 Revelations

Chapter 24 Wentworth

Chapter 25 Paradise Park

Chapter 26 The Trip

Chapter 27 Pursuit

Chapter 28 Recuperation

Chapter 29 Encounter

Chapter 30 Suspicions

Chapter 31 Plan

Chapter 32 Safe House

Chapter 33 Doctor J

Chapter 34 Visits

Chapter 35 Consequences

Chapter 36 Wasted

Chapter 37 Knowing You

Chapter 38 Rendezvous

 

 

Chapter 1 – Unreliable Narrator

The cold surface of the ceramic tile chilled my bare skin. I lay sprawled out in underwear on the kitchen floor. The dog licked my face as, “You okay down there?”

Self-indulgence, a box of wine, and some bud knocked me out and landed me in a La-La Land stupor. A temporary reprieve I know, but I was grabbing for any kind of escape.

“No, I’m not okay.”

The dog’s eyebrows flinched. He understood.

“I’m dying a slow death here, Cody.”

Cody T. Dog, a blue-eyed Husky, looked like a timber wolf and was all a person might seek in a pet. An attentive last friend, he shared a bed, meals, guarded space, and tagged-along. God created dogs for losers on the brink of survival.

“Yeah, Cody… A gradual descent into hell or insanity, oh Buddy.”

He slid to the floor and rested his head on my chest. I promised my mental health counselor to get a dog and not put a gun to my head.

A self-diagnosed eccentric recluse, I come down from the mountain once a month for supplies and might talk to an occasional clerk at the register.

“Cody dog, oh Buddy, it’s hard to believe.”

I raised my right hand and gawked at the long gone missing third and fourth fingers. Two stubby stumps remained with surgical scars tracking up to my wrist. My suspicions confirmed. The proof is the maimed right hand.

Is my reality fact or illusion?

Cody, a good listener sensed my frustrations, acknowledged my dilemma with a snort.

I continued staring at the missing digits on my right hand, wiggled the fingers on my left, and compared both hands.

A lawn mower severed my fingers on my left hand when I was a three-year-old child. For all practical purposes, I survived despite the horrid event because I was right-handed. Now the fingers are missing on my right hand.

I wondered. Is this weird? Am I crazy?

I stared at my hand. Can’t remember!

Is the box of wine empty? Where is the bong?

So a burnt-out, hung-over man lies wasted on the floor – sanity in jeopardy, failed in life, unable to hold a job, and self-removed from society. Besides my lack of success in life, I endure recurring dreams, visions, voices, panic attacks, or just damn stupid stuff that makes no sense. People think me odd or borderline. Therefore, at this dead-end point in my life, a step away from self-termination, I write and record the nagging hallucinations. When I am under attack, I find refuge in front of the computer. May this write rescue me, settle my mind, and pay bills with a self-published ebook. I have plenty of time, an old laptop, and nothing going on.

 

Chapter 2 – Jake, Cousin, and Sister

In random locations throughout the cosmos, natural occurring wormholes exist. During the nineteenth century, three unsuspecting individuals discovered a shortcut through the space-time continuum and kept the phenomenon a secret for many years.

This part of the story begins in 1878.

Twenty some years after the Colorado gold rush of 1859, miners worked numerous new and old gold mining claims. Much of the activity happened around Clear Creek and Gilpin County, Colorado.

One day, triplet siblings, a girl and two boys, ventured out on a family mining adventure. Each guided a pack mule uphill.

Sarah, the headstrong sturdy sister, yanked her stubborn mule and yelled to the brothers.

“Hey, you hooligans, the gold’s calling us.” She guided her siblings upwards through a rocky and overgrown gulch. She knocked free gravel in her wake.

The twins hurried to keep up. Family tradition named the first-born male Jacob. Confusion over which twin brother popped out first resulted in both boys baptized Jacob. Over the years, the brother with a strawberry birthmark on his stomach became Jake and the other Cousin. Sarah evolved into Sister or Sis.

A brother shouted. “We’re coming Sis. You got the stronger mule.”

Sarah stopped to glance at her brothers. “Jake and Cousin, this mountain sings to me.” She took a deep breath. “Tells me where to go.”

The sibling’s mother and her husband traveled from Nebraska to Denver around 1860, chasing the Colorado gold rush. Her spouse died of fever toiling in the mining camps. The young luckless widow resorted to working saloons and gambling halls and established a notorious reputation while eking out a precarious livelihood. The unusual birth of triplets, from an unknown father, put the new mom in a difficult situation. She attempted to regain legitimacy by scrubbing miner’s laundry, but labored herself to death with a bout of pneumonia.

In their younger years, the three sibling orphans lived as mining camp urchins who survived on charity and panhandling. They became self-sufficient and independent early on – not surprising for the era and circumstances.

Jake talked as he stumbled on the shifting terrain. “Cousin, I prefer this to living in a shed behind the Methodist Church.”

Cousin said, “But we gave up regular wages at the smelter.”

The handsome sister, musically inclined, picked up cash playing piano and singing in saloons. Sarah, sometimes tempted, avoided her mother’s infamous profession.

Jake blinked to rid the dust from his eyes. “Sis, settle down, you’re kicking up a storm.”

Sister sang out. “I hear this mountain calling me!”

Cousin tugged on his mule while joking with his brother. “Is she crazy today?”

Jake laughed even though he stumbled to his knees. “Well, she is a musical kind of person. Piano lessons and all.”

Cousin pulled on the mule’s reins and tried to use the animal’s weight for balance. “Sis never made money playing a church organ though saloon piano tipped plenty.”

A month ago an unexpected envelope addressed to the siblings arrived from Nebraska. An aunt mailed money for a return trip to live with extended family. The siblings, bitten by gold fever bought supplies and mules to prospect in an unexplored Fall River Valley.

Sarah kept chattering to the mule as she climbed upwards through the challenging gulch. “Go mulie. Go mulie.”

The scratchy scrub pine tangled their feet. Now, past noon, the rising heat of the sun dumped on their persons and animals. The siblings tasted sweat and the sting of salt in their eyes.

Once more, she sang out. “Hallelujah this mountain is calling me!”

Jake shook his head. “Rocks are calling her?”

“Go mulie go, as God is my witness,” she huffed, “this will be our day – a gold day of abundance. Ask and you shall receive. Follow me Brothers!”

“What’s driving Sis? Are we to the top yet?”

“I don’t know. Is the dirt showing color?”

Cousin scooped dirt to his hand and held the matter to the sunlight. “Interesting… Red and white quartz.”

Sarah directed her brothers to a hollowed-out landing exposing a natural cut cavern. She stared into the crack. “Gold right in there. I’ve been told.”

Jake and Cousin did not argue or dispute her claim, even if she acted odd. She picked a sunny spot facing south where the Rockies rose to fourteen thousand feet, a dazzling view. Lush vegetation indicated water close to the surface.

They tied up their mules and dropped the heavy packs off the animals. All three sat on comfortable rocks. They quenched their thirst, caught their breath, and rested their tired bodies. The laborious work with pickaxe and shovel waited.

Cousin pointed. “Look… Right there in the rubble and bush – boots!”

The surprised trio jumped to examine the uncommon sight. After removing gravel and rock, the legs of a decomposing person stuck-out.

“Damn watch out, a rock slide buried this poor soul alive!”

The cautious young explorers toiled into the evening removing a large boulder that crushed the lone individual. Bugs and the weather mutilated the dry crumbling corpse. They set to rest the remaining bones in a simple grave, recited a prayer, and pitched a hasty camp for a night of sleep.

The following morning sunrise lit the cave’s entrance with a sparkle. The sight grabbed Jake’s attention. “Cousin, Sister come see this!”

They crawled over the land while sifting the gravel and pebbles through their hands. Yellow traces of mineral leached from the breach in the rock face.

“The dead man discovered a vein of gold inside the mountain.”

“And the mountain killed him,” spoke a somber Sister.

“But Sis,” bubbled Cousin, “rejoice, you were right! Singing voices or the hand of God, you led the way. You found gold!”

They bellied into the cavity and discovered the chasm awash in gold dust and nuggets.

“Halleluiah, don’t get any easier. Eureka!”

At the evening campfire, the wishful siblings feasted on beans and beef jerky and shared dreams of a better life. “Our family mine… Cabin here… Outhouse below… Cut the road there.”

The next morning, a brother hurried to Central City to register a claim. The trio opened the cave and tunneled to the ore body. During the summer, they chased the fissure deep into the Earth and located a single vein, a few inches wide, of unusual purity. Soon the immediate vicinity buzzed like an ant village with new prospectors poking holes and scraping the ridge, but fortune eluded other miners.

The Jake and Cousin spoke of the singing mountain only Sis heard and wondered about her mental disposition. Inside the mine, voices talked to Sis. Outside, she would stare at the hillside and daydream.

“Rocks talk to her.” said Jake to his brother. “Isolation from common normal folks can make a person peculiar or strange.”

Cousin said, “We’ll build a nice house in the city for Sis. Someday she’ll marry and raise a family.”

Come summer’s end, they dug and picked their way back into the mountain a fair distance. The day’s exertion ended with a small blast of dynamite to widen the cave. The explosion filled the mine with choking dust. Jake and Cousin would wait until the next morning to clear out the waste and sort out the gold ore.

The brothers returned home for supper. Early profits constructed a comfortable cabin on site. Sarah, who prepared the meals had vanished – nowhere around. The twins waited several hours and feared her lost or injured. Past sunset, Sister appeared in the doorway in a confused state, unusual for her. She stood silent and pulled tangled hair off her face. A few garbled words stammered from her mouth.

“Sis, what’s wrong?” asked Jake. He grasped her shoulders to catch her attention. “Sister, please talk to us.”

Sarah said, “Come, you need to see. Jake, Cousin, you must behold a miracle.”

She clasped Jake’s hand and led him out of the cabin to the mine’s entrance. Cousin grabbed a rifle.

At the mine’s entry, Sarah cocked her head to the mouth of the tunnel. “It talks. A voice calls me in.”

The brothers shook their heads in astonishment as they exchanged glances.

Sarah said, “Follow me,” and motioned them into the black hole.

She mucked the mine just as her brothers. Trying to make sense of the circumstances, the baffled twins followed her into the excavation. The dust long settled, Sarah inched-stepped her way into the shaft. Jake carried two lanterns in each hand. With caution, he aimed the lights to mitigate the darkness. Cousin toted a cocked rifle in case a phantom jumped from the shadows. Something spooked Sister.

They stumbled over rocks and debris from the blast. When they reached the tunnel’s end, she halted and pointed at a purplish tinged pulsating aura. Like a spinning vortex of plasma, a patch of twirling murky miasma whirled against the horizontal rock face. Bizarre in appearance, a dim glow from the hole projected a slow circular motion resembling the downward spiral of water sucked into a drain. The paranormal dynamics threatened to inhale and absorb anything next to the peculiar illusion. The phenomenon emitted an eerie low-pitched droning hum.

Sister sputtered, “Calls beyond, follow me.”

The brothers remained speechless and thought, “What is happening?”

Fluctuating sensations permeated their bodies. Body parts tingled. Hearts pumped. Fear consumed.

Sarah stretched out both arms and stepped into the whirling mass.

Cousin stopped short, not believing what he saw. “What the hell? Damn!”

“Follow her,” Jake yelled.

Fears set aside and with love for their sister, they pursued her into the vibrating sucking violet-red hole and found themselves at a portal – an oscillating tunnel or passageway. The tubing structure squirmed like a sluggish breathing worm. The twisting hazy corridor snaked forever before them playing tricks on their senses.

Cousin asked, “Is this a dream?”

“You mean nightmare,” said Jake. “Wake me up!”

Fright and terror overcame the brothers. “Somewhere or nowhere… Are we dead? Is this heaven or hell!”

In the blur of the distorted light confronting them, the stunned Twins gawked at a bemused twirling Sister, arms spread and palms flat. Her hair and loose clothing floated as if she were dancing in an air stream. Her voice sang a harmonious meandering melody against the droning undertone. Her silhouette faded into the tunnel down the hole. Disappeared – Departed!

Panic-stricken, the brothers realized they lost Sarah. In an urgent attempt for salvation, they grasped and clung to each other.

“She’s gone!” Cousin shouted.

“Go back. We must get out!” Jake pleaded.

Jake and Cousin retreated in a cowardly moment and scurried out of the mine. Full of guilt, the brothers collapsed to the ground to savor the world they understood. The identical tragic experience kept the Simms Brothers sane. Jake and Cousin begged God to revert the horrid occurrence. “Give back Sister. Chase away the demons!”

In time, Jake and Cousin regained their composure and returned to the mine and the horrific phenomenon that swallowed Sister.

 

 

The Daily Register

Central City Colorado, May 20, 1878

Mining Application No. 1327.

United States Land Office

 

Notice is hereby given that Jake, Cousin, and Sarah Simms whose post office address is Central City, Gilpin County has made application for a patent for fifteen hundred linear feet on the SARAH lode, bearing gold and silver, the same being 425 feet easterly, and 1076 feet westerly from discovery shaft thereon, with surface ground 150 feet in width, situate in Lincoln Mining District, Clear Creek County, State of Colorado, and described in the plat and field notes on file in this office.

 

The Daily Register

Central City Colorado, September 6, 1878

New Gold Mine – In upper Fall River Valley gold has been discovered of considerable richness. The two local Simms brothers have filed a claim named Sarah, after their sister. The strike brings a horde of auspicious prospectors to the area and the beginnings of a mining camp called Yankee. Placer deposits suggest abundant gold bearing veins in the river valley and at the higher elevations.

 

The Colorado Miner

Georgetown Colorado, September 27. 1878

Died – Sarah Simms in mine accident. Sister of Jake and Cousin Simms killed by dynamite explosion. No funeral services are scheduled.

 

Daily Rocky Mountain News

Denver Colorado, June 8, 1883

Simms – in Denver, June 7, a son to the wife of Jake Simms.

 

Golden Weekly Globe

Golden, Colorado, February 10, 1885

Born in this town on the 18th, a daughter to Mr. and Mrs. Jake Simms

 

Rocky Mountain News

Denver Colorado, August 21, 1883

Simms – in Denver, August 20 to the wife of Jake Simms, a son.

 

Boulder Daily Camera

Boulder, Colorado, December 28, 1903

Jake Simms died in this city today from the effects of a pistol shot to the chest inflicted by Sam Bradley of Fort Scott, Kansas. Jake was a prominent young man here and was shot by Bradley during a quarrel. Bradley has fled.

 

Coloradoan Mountaineer, Colorado Springs

On Wednesday November 12, 1907, there passed away Sarah Simms of consumption. She leaves behind a son from a fallen veteran of the Spanish-American War.

 

Chapter 3 – Crazy Guy

I rubbed Cody’s ears as my mind flooded with old memories. I grew up in single parent households contending with mother’s boyfriends and spending a lot of time with grandma and auntie.

On my sixteenth birthday, a weird thing happened when working my first real W-2 job in the neighborhood machine shop. Dating and gas money became priorities. After school, I swept floors, cleaned toilets, and put away the tools. Sometimes the boss let me run a band saw that cut up aluminum bars. One day the metal circular band blade snapped. While fastening a new blade to the machine, my clumsy hands dropped it to the floor.

The saw blade bounced with a bong, sprung into the air, and vanished in a zap.

“Wow, what the…?” Gone. Impossible.

I searched for the damn blade – even on my knees crawling around, but never found it – so weird, always a mystery.

At a point in my development, I realized objects or things were always vanishing in and out of my life. Not car keys, sunglasses or a mobile, but trivial items seldom used and set aside in a particular spot for a reason – like a tool for a job or a picture pinned to a wall or an extra tube of toothpaste. So strange, items would vanish for a while, hours, or days, and then return to the identical spot. I learned not to fret about missing items, but just to wait until they re-materialized. Or maybe I had a problem seeing and remembering things.

My high school sweetheart and I married after graduation. Her loving family brought stability to my needy personality. Old man Stankus hired me as a machine apprentice. A few days after his death, the little factory closed, and I was unemployed. No education and no cash, I enlisted in the military to make a living. While serving overseas, my wife died giving birth to a stillborn male baby.

Informed of the tragedy at my duty station in the Middle East, I freaked and stopped functioning – too much death and dying in my life. After a psychiatric discharge from the Marines, my sick and depressed self came home to a lonesome and haunting apartment containing my wife’s things. I lay in the bed where we talked and made love. My first night’s sleep in our old bedroom, I dreamt and imagined the two of us together again.

She dressed and fed the baby. Her familiar fragrance soothed. The infant’s diaper stunk. She laughed and the baby cried. I felt her breasts against my skin and baby spit on my cheek. For a special moment in time, my life was different as if living in another world where all things were right and I had all my fingers.

 

Chapter 4 – Ellie

Sixteen-year-old Ellie got use to her mom’s instructions. “I got company Kido. Go upstairs.”

With those words, Donna shipped her daughter elsewhere when friends partied or spent the night. Ellie stayed upstairs with aging Anna during the abandoning events. Anna worked as a grocery clerk at the corner mart and lived with her husband Oscar, a retired railroad worker. The elderly couple treated Ellie with kindness though their declining latter years painted a dim depiction of life.

On a Saturday evening, asleep on Anna’s sofa bed, Ellie turned victim to the reoccurring dreams or premonitions, which sometimes haunted. Sobs woke Anna and Oscar.

A soothing Anna caressed the whimpering girl.

“My piekne dziecko,” she said in Polish. “Only a nightmare.”

One of Donna’s boyfriends molested Ellie as a young child. Once discovered, the offender disappeared and nobody addressed the abuse.

The distraught girl sat up, pulled the long tangled hair off her face, and wiped her nose and eyes with her sleeve. “I remembered the cold hands, stinky breath, and the darkness.”

Oscar clicked the kitchen light and put a teapot on the stove. “Time for some Valerian Root tea.”

As everyone gathered at the table, he set out cups, a jar of honey, a package of cookies, a deck of cards, a tray of poker chips, and a cigar box containing chess pieces. Anna dealt while Oscar divided the chips. Ellie sat at her usual spot with head resting on the table.

“One-eye Jacks wild.” The card players sipped tea, placed bets, and played poker. The radio muffled the party noise from Donna’s first floor apartment.

The game chatter prevailed until Anna asked, “Ellie, your mom said the school nurse called and said you fainted in class.”

Friends, popularity, and esteem eluded Ellie. Plain, simple, straight in demeanor, and too tall or skinny for her age, she acquired the frequent nickname “Bones.” So frequent, a teacher thought Bones her last name.

That day at school during roll call, Mr. Sawyer, the math instructor called out, “Eleanor Bones.” The class roared, Ellie fainted, and woke in the nurse’s office.

As a child, Ellie began to hear voices and see things or black out and lose track of time. Ellie wondered, Am I crazy?

Ellie stared at her cards. “Yeah… I did, but I understand something now – where the voices and pictures come from… I think or seems that way.”

Oscar settled back in his chair and Anna set down her cards. They were good listeners and support for the shy troubled girl.

Ellie glanced at her substitute grandparents. “I’m not a mental case. Sometimes… Not all the time, I hear and see – not just with my ears and eyes, but also with my mind – other people’s thoughts or ideas. That’s what happened. I was inside my teacher’s head and inside the students too… All laughing, talking, and thinking stuff about me.”

Ellie paused, rested her head on the table, and said in a defeated voice, “I’m not crazy. I don’t have schizophrenia, like your sister Marta. I googled Wikipedia to find out. I’m just different in some weird way. I guess.”

Anna grasped Ellie’s hand. “You’re special in a nice way.”

Oscar gave the girl a wink. “You seem normal to me.”

Anna folded her cards. “Ellie, my beautiful child, and Oscar my sweet fat old man, it’s time I go to sleep. You two play chess.”

Conditions at home got better for Ellie’s mom when her boyfriend Hank started hanging out. He’d sing, “Donna. Donna, my prima-Donna. It’s time we rock-and-roll!” Drinks, drugs, and sex followed between Hank and his hot momma Donna.

Donna, a fading beauty, kept a girlish figure. Men were still attracted to her and she worked the attention to her advantage. Hank, her new boyfriend, younger by nine years brought cash into the house. Rent and food became less an issue. A body and fender man by trade, Hank drove a customized convertible with tail fins. Donna loved cruising around town in hot cars.

Her mother subsisted as a paranoid wrapped up with control issues. “Ellie, you come home pronto after class. If I’m here or not, you better be.”

One day, Donna returned home from the store with cigarettes and bottled beverages. She spied Tom in Ellie’s room watching TV with the girl.

“Tom, what are ya doing in there with Ellie?” They were both sitting on the bed.

Tom tried to justify. “Noth’in Donna. Noth’in, we were just visiting.”

Donna grumbled, “What’s there to talk about with a 15-year-old kid?”

“Mama, we were talking about the TV show, the girl singing on TV.”

Tom defended. “I was telling Ellie, she looks like that woman.”

When Donna’s suspicious and ignorant mind realized the comparison, her daughter materialized as more woman than a child – someone worthy of attention and competition.

“Both of you get your asses out here! Ellie go to Anna, I wanna talk to Tom.”

Mom pointed to the doorway. “Get out. Go upstairs!”

Ellie slammed the door behind her, which caused Donna to cast an angry scowl at Tom.

“You stay away from Ellie. She’s only a kid and you ain’t her father. Don’t look right, you being in her room and on the bed.”

Tom, startled by her unexpected tantrum, cajoled. “Sweetheart, what you got to fear? I’m here for you. Ain’t I, baby doll?”

Donna got a couple of glasses to pour a drink. “Oh, you better be. That’s no lie.”

The next morning when Ellie left for school, Donna shouted from her bed.

“Ellie, Tom is here for me, not you. He don’t talk to kids. He comes by and I’m not here, you go upstairs. Maybe you should be upstairs whenever he’s here.”

Ellie slept more on Emma’s couch than her own bed. If not so by now, her dysfunctional family life became hostile.

“Ellie,” cried a voice in the middle of the night. “Ellie call 911! Oscar can’t breathe!”

Ellie dialed. Once before Oscar’s heart failed and she helped save his life. Anna and Ellie took turns compressing his chest until the ambulance arrived. Oscar died and life changed. Anna sublet the apartment and moved in with her sister. For a few days, Ellie hung out in the vacant apartment until a non-English speaking couple moved in. Ellie lost her refuge and Donna lost her privacy. Although never right, things turned more distant between Ellie and her mother.

A few weeks after the death, Ellie and Donna sat at the kitchen table eating leftover take-out fried chicken.

“Ellie, I talked to your grandma on the phone the other day. You two have never met, but I haven’t seen her since the poor excuse of your father disappeared. We talked about you and some of the problems you’re having growing up. I suggested you might visit this summer. You can get to know each other and help out. She’s getting old with arthritis and now diabetes.”

Ellie was quiet around her mom. Donna talked more than she listened and always spoke loud. After the one-way chat, Ellie retired to her room. Allowed to sleep in her own bed, she dreamed.

Ellie wanders a garden paradise and glides through the foliage. Her body drifts and floats with dandelion puffs. Zoo animals follow her. All is peaceful and calm until the creatures begin to nip at her heels urging her along. She speeds up the pace. They pressure her to move faster. The nips become bites. Ellie extends her stride to get them off her feet. The wildlife, once a bunch of cute furry creatures, transform into raging beasts of the jungle. Snapping jaws inflict pain and chomp on her backside. The frightened girl breaks into a run. They sense her panic and give chase intending to do harm – predators in pursuit to take down and devour their quarry. Her heart pounds. Her lungs suck. Her legs ache and trickle with blood. Exhausted, she staggers and stumbles to the ground.

Startled and wet with sweat, Ellie woke before the sun rose with the chronic nightmare fresh in mind. Must Forget. Ignore. Move on.

Ellie acted. She tiptoed to the nightstand where Tom laid his wallet and snatched his cash. Donna’s purse hung on a kitchen chair. She did the same. She sneaked out of the apartment wearing a stuffed backpack and carrying a plastic laundry bag full of clothes. Ellie fled on the subway to the downtown Chicago bus station. She left a brief note:

 

Dear Momma,

I am sorry I stole your money and Tom’s.

I am buying a bus ticket. I will live with grandma.

Goodbye, Ellie

 

A run-away or sent-away, an abandoned Ellie boarded a Greyhound bus that would transport her to another world.

 

Chapter 5 – Allan

A security guard escorted Allan Doe to a chair in front of Ms. Melch, a withered pale social worker who emitted an odor of smoke.

“Mr. Doe, I work on your behalf as an advocate and ensure your best interests are served.”

Allan’s body slouched. He experienced the process before.

Her stark face spoke without expression, only her lips moved. “Mr. Doe, I am not going to put you in yet another home. You will run off again.”

Allan, abandoned and addicted at birth, bounced in and out of orphanages or placement situations. “You’re right about that. My attachment disorder is out of control.”

“Mr. Doe, what was the problem this time?”

“My so called foster care parents were engaging in authoritarian acts of discipline. I’m sorry lady, but I have scruples.”

“You possess an unusual command of words for someone so absent from school.”

“I do. I test high. Did you know that in the new millennium the Internet is the classroom? Teachers and people like you will fade away.”

Alan erected his posture and fired a shot at Melch. “Madame, allow me to yank your chain.”

The social worker disliked Allan and his snarky mouth. The delinquent created additional work, and she retired in thirty-two days.

Allan said, “You present yourself as honorable and concerned, but I’m a file folder in your cabinet, a pile of paper on your desk – a piece of shit on the sole of your shoe. As long as my behavior fits in your tidy parameters and the stink-hole bureaucracy you represent, your content to let me wallow and rot. To you I am a widget and a means to a paycheck.”

Melch responded with a scowling stare. “Mr. Doe, your history suggests a young adult requiring supervision, structure, counseling, and intervention. Your detrimental attitudes and unhealthy chronic behaviors remain unchanged.”

“Leave me alone. Get out of my fuck’in life. Understand I got my own agenda and timetable. I don’t need you or anyone else’s help. Just toss my file into the trash and forget I ever exist. Life’s unfair – it sucks and that’s okay by me.” He pounded his chest. “I take care of Allan.”

His tone turned polite-sweet. “So please lady, lay off.”

A slight tremor appeared in Melch’s hands and head. She snapped back, “Mr. Doe, you are a minor!”

Allan leaned in to say, “Hey, I support myself and make a decent buck as a gopher for a drug parlor. I got the fastest legs and bicycle in Times Square. I get no help from you stupid mistaken bureaucrats. Your idea of well-being is chemical castration and confinement. Cut off the kid’s balls and lock him up.” Allan stood and got too close, as he enunciated, “Leave my well-being alone.”

The security guard yelled, “Sit down young man.”

Allan gestured thumbs-up to the guard, “Good work officer,” and sat down.

Melch waved Allan’s fat file folder in his face. “Every service and specialist in our organization has tried to attend to your needs to no avail. Others and I perceive you as angry, hostile. You refuse to take meds.”

Allan rolled his eyes. “Got you going. Dance for me, you ranting old fart.”

Melch’s voice climbed to a crescendo as she flashed a police report to his face. “What is this? You assaulted a student at the school!”

Last week at a new school, Allan was checking out his assigned locker. He understood mean cool kids and the art of ridicule since he appeared nerdy and unkempt. A group of peers with neighboring lockers confronted him. They boxed him in against the wall.

The spokesperson of the hostile bunch said, “You know about the locker and table fees at this school.”

Allan remained calm. “No, can you tell me?”

“We are seniors. The principal gave us the task of collecting all student fees. New kids like you use a sliding scale, eases you into the system. We also accept personal items in exchange for money.”

Still smiling, Allan buckled up to this guy’s eyeballs. “Thank you for the information. I appreciate your welcome and concern. I prefer paying my fees directly to the principal, eliminates the middle man.”

The bully nodded to his cohorts and a few accompanying girlfriends. He stepped back because Allan stepped too close. “Friend that’s not how the system works. We’re trying to help you.”

Allan flaunted a glaring smile at the group that increased in number, but directed his words to the intimidator.

“Now Bubba, I’m not sure I am your friend. Don’t want to be. I am a ward of the state and Social Services and this school keep a watchful eye on me because I’m dangerous. By the way, you look and think like a Neanderthal, see a vet and get euthanized. You bloodsucker – you pick scabs and bully to compensate for a little dink. I hate shitheads like you.”

Allan paused and glared at the crowd as if crazed. “… And your barnyard critters following you around.” He shouted, “Baby lambs, do you need to suckle a tit?”

Bubba and his entire animal farm remained silent.

Allan wrapped up the encounter. “Good bye ladies and germs. I cherish our chat and expect to insult you again.”

For the bully, Allan’s mean streak snuck out. In a frontal attack, he grabbed the bully’s genitals and squeezed. The bully’s eyes bugged out freezing him in pain.

Allan said in a loud, animated voice. “You’re not packing much in the meat department. Hope you can find a date for the prom.” Allan let go and the squirming kid collapsed to the floor. Allan swaggered through the startled observers while making an assortment of animal noises.

He exited laughing. Do they expel for grabbing balls?

Allan said to Melch, “About that school assault, assholes should keep their distance.”

Ms. Melch used his first name to connect. “Allan, you need friends, relationships with role models, teachers or a counselor as myself. Did you ever give a foster family a chance?”

Allan took a deep breath and shook his head in disbelief. “What more must I say. You’re so thick. Stop your ignorant, petty, and misguided behaviors. Fuck-off bitch!”

Melch proceeded to stuff files into her briefcase. She shared Allan’s contempt for the system. She hated her job and ached to get out, but Allan crossed over a line and she was tired.

“Mr. Doe, you will be charged with assault and confined, court date pending.” Ms. Melch left without another word.”

Escorted to a locked room for the night, Allan dreams he is strapped to a gurney and stripped naked. Arms stretched in a cross, his legs spread. Tubes protrude into every orifice of his body. All his holes ache. Needles pierce his skull penetrating deep into his brain, causing excruciating pain. Allan’s spirit rises out of the body and hovers above the operating table as an out of body experience. A masked surgeon cuts and removes organs. Allan witnesses Allan screaming in agony, watching himself disemboweled and dismembered. The recurring nightmare plagued the delinquent who believed the vision to be an omen of unfinished business.

The dream and jail instigated Allan’s flight to freedom. Unlike other jailbreaks, this one nurtured a quest that compelled Allan to go west. A foster parent’s obsession with John Denver music haunted Allan. After countless replays, the song “Colorado Rocky Mountain High” impregnated his naive subconscious psyche to flee and fly away – to live high in the Colorado Mountains.

Allan pried the window grate, slipped out the opening, and disappeared into dim morning light.

With a few dollars, spry legs, a keen brain, a crippled heart, a troubled soul, and a sense of adventure, Allan hit the road for the mountains and the highest state.

 

Chapter 6 – Unreliable Me

 

A common grave holds my son and wife. Since that time, I’ve binged on anything a person could drink, smoke, snort, and inject. Military benefits dragged me through rehab programs. I stumbled in and out of college on the G.I. Bill. Loss, depression, dismemberment, and addictions affected my mind, my choices, and sense of reality.

Cody the dog raised his head and sounded a warning bark. He ran to the front of the house to announce someone walking up the trail to the cabin.

“Hello… County Sheriff… Welfare and security check.”

The door banged with a pounding knock.

“Anyone home!”

Cody barked as he stood on hind legs to look out the window.

Using both my arms, I pulled my stiff numb body up, but toppled down several times.

The dog is barking. The door is banging. The cop is yelling. I am stumbling.

“Hello, County Sheriff… Is anyone home?”

Close to the entrance, I yelled, “I’m here. I’m coming!”

I opened the door with a grunt. A familiar skinny deputy stood with his hand on his holstered weapon. Fred, a local officer who twice arrested me for DUI smiled. For some stupid reason I said, “Hello Officer Gump.”

He did not seem to care.

The Barney-type deputy presented a clear plastic bag containing envelopes, bills, and papers.

“Sir, the Post Office asked the Sheriff Department to deliver your mail. Your PO Box was over-flowing. We call this a Welfare and Security Check. Don’t mean to pry into your personal affairs, but are you well or needing assistance?”

“Yes, I am well. Just fine.” Smile at the man. Be nice so he goes away.

“Would you please sign for your mail?”

The dutiful servant handed me a clipboard and pen. “Right by the big yellow X…”

I grabbed the clipboard with my maimed right hand and signed my name with my left hand. Holy shit! Am I left-handed today? Nuts. Crazy!

My mind swelled with countless implications of what might be happening. The deputy tugged the board back.

My mind reacted. Say thank you. Act natural. Close the door. Don’t be scared. Be gone devil. He left.

I recall an ugly moment, of many, that forced me into seclusion. A screaming noise woke me.

“Wake up you lazy-dumb ass. Get up! Get out!”

My eyes squinted to the bright overhead lamp. She was rightly mad this time, but I didn’t care. I ignored her. Maybe I deserved a rude awakening.

“Wake up you asshole. Get out of my house!”

I got wasted and forgot to pick her up from work. I used her car to search for a job supposedly. Her keys sat on bookcase, so she crawled in the kitchen window off the porch, me too stoned to answer the doorbell and let her in.

The angry new girlfriend screamed, “Get up and get out!”

My head hurt. I mumbled, “Go away, bitch. I’m sleeping.”

Out of desperation, Claudia pulled my pillow and pummeled my head. “Get up. Get your lazy ass out!”

I snapped and lunged forward wrapping my hands around her neck and pushed her down into the couch. On top and applying pressure to her throat, her face froze expecting the worst. The horror in her eyes stopped me short.

My world… My ugly, ugly world.

My reality became strangely rearranged when my nightmares, hallucinations, or fantasies acquired a theme. Like a fly on a wall snapping pictures, I watched an evolving science fiction melodrama about a delusional Allan and Ellie. The grieving dreams of my dead wife evaporated.

Stuck in grief and depression, and always crying, I did not mind the young couple’s strange arrival or my departure to their realm. I would put myself to rest, sleep, or trance and seek their world or this alternative reality – like remote viewing or peering through a window – unable to touch or talk, only watch and listen.

Throughout my life, nightmares and insomnia plagued my slumber, but now I slept diverted with my mind intact. My visions and their adventures were creating the book I was writing to occupy my fragile mind.

A psychiatrist once cautioned, “When the voices and visions meddle with your reality, you have a problem.” For now, life was tolerable.

Reality is what the five senses perceive, the brain interprets, and the mind creates. Some days I wake left-handed. Other days I am a righty. One day, I had all my fingers. All this weird finger illusion stuff is spooky, but the book proceeds as the story reveals itself. The writing maintains my sanity. I am told, “The truth will set you free.”

 

Chapter 7 – Jewelry Store

A leather-clad biker parked his Harley in front of a downtown store named Denver Jewelry, Mineral, and Coin. Security cameras followed the bearded-long hair into an established and popular emporium. The motorcyclist dropped a quaint leather sack on the counter. Clump. The pouch sounded heavy.

The older lanky customer smiled and spoke in a cordial tone to a waiting bow tied salesperson. “Hello my friend, I want to trade this bag of gold for goods and services.”

The suspicious merchant eyeballed the customer dressed-in-black, except for a stars and stripe headscarf. Cash, check, credit made for simple transactions, barter required haggling and caution. Too early in the morning to dicker with a stranger, the middle-aged operator expected his brother and staff to arrive and work the displays and register. The nagging pain of an ulcer compromised his mood. A pile of paperwork cluttered his desk.

“Good morning sir, please understand, this is not a pawn shop for costume jewelry. Besides, I expect proof of ownership. I buy only high-end items.”

The stranger remained silent and sustained a grinning stare.

The merchant, attempting to avoid a difficult scene, reached for the leather bag. A clap of thunder interrupted the proceedings and a sudden torrent of hail and rain dumped on the area. The noise of golf ball sized hail brought the merchant and biker to the glass-enclosed portico to view the extreme weather event.

“Damn,” said the biker, “Glad I’m not on the road.”

The storekeeper replied, “Grateful my car is in a garage and not on a street.”

Now baseball-sized hail bounced off the pavement and banged the store’s plate glass windows.

Both men stepped back. “Holy shit!”

The shopkeeper shook his head. “This second millennium – floods, droughts, fires, and storms, Mother Nature and climate change is kicking butt, inflates the cost of doing business.”

The customer spoke as he watched the damaging weather pelt his classic 1943 Harley Davidson Military Motorcycle. “And food, water, transportation… All stuff, everything costs more.” His tirade sounded rehearsed. “Energy and mineral costs are soaring. Human populations increase while animal populations decrease. Governments flounder and corporations rule. Middle class shrinks. Poor folks die. Rich people play. The wars of ideology rage against science. We’re all screwed big time.”

Slush-clogged sewers flooded streets and stalled traffic as water spilled over sidewalks. The owner ran to the back, returned lugging two sandbags, and tucked them against the main door. “Our glaciers are melting, the coastlines are retreating and my store is about to get flooded.”

The deluge stopped as quickly as it started. The jeweler said, “Chaos is good for my emporium. People prefer precious commodities to cash.” The merchant resumed business. “Let’s look at your merchandize.”

The biker untied the drawstrings to the curious pouch and removed two sandwich bags – one full of chunky gold bits and the other with nuggets the size of thumbnails. The wide-eyed jeweler emptied the contents and said, “Mister is all this real?”

“You should know, being a professional.”

Gold nuggets of this nature were uncommon – long gone, discovered, collected, and melted down into bars. Before the Europeans arrived and picked up the best stuff, nuggets littered the ground. Close to the surface and in the right places, the grinding glaciers scattered bits and pieces of gold. Today’s nuggets sell for many times their value in weight. Rarer than diamonds, nuggets become museum pieces, collector items, or used as jewelry.

The jeweler examined the rocks with a magnifying glass. “You don’t find specimens like this anymore.”

“A lot of things you don’t find anymore.”

The biker removed a picture from his shirt pocket. “Can you create a necklace of linked nuggets like this?” The photograph displayed a matched assortment of flattened elongated nuggets. Their earthy texture still intact, a heavy gold chain linked the rocks together. In the black and white portrait, the gaudy piece hung on the neck of a woman dressed in early 1900’s high fashion.

The operator scrutinized the nuggets with an eyepiece and set the second plastic bag on a scale. “Sir, allow me to introduce myself, Robert Miller, part-owner of a family institution that began with my grandfather. Who I am addressing?”

“In this day and age, I prefer barter, trade, and anonymity, considering my mineral is up front. Just call me Mr. S.”

The store owner understood. “We are a full service jewelry store so we do create custom pieces in house. A skilled family member, my daughter actually…” His finger directed. “Her pieces are on display over there. She does nice work. My establishment can serve your needs, especially if you have similar nuggets you’d like to sell.”

 

Chapter 8 – Allan and Ellie

Westward traveled Allan, posing as a college student bound for the University of Colorado.

After a week of thumbing rides and hiking, circumstances delivered him to Davenport, Iowa off Interstate 80, a convenient route across Iowa and Nebraska. He strolled into town at daybreak seeking a cheap motel for a one-night pit stop – shower, meal, bed, laundry room, and an Internet connection. His ride dropped him off in the downtown district. Intuition bought him to the bus station to scout for resources.

Allan surveyed a sparsely populated lobby and noticed a lone girl with some baggage sitting on a bench with her head resting on hands and elbows propped on knees. Allan picked up a tourist brochure to browse and located a spot on the far side of the terminal in eyeshot of the girl.

Is she crying?

While reading the local brochures, his eyes glanced at this woeful looking girl. She might be close to his age. He felt an attraction – curious, but he recalled his rules of survival for his renegade lifestyle. Get to goal ASAP. Be invisible. Avoid entanglements. No drama. Keep it simple.

Three homeless types, an old fat man, a younger woman, and her boyfriend approached the deserted girl on the bench. Their ragged and layered apparel suggested they spend a lot time walking and sleeping on the streets. Without introduction, each man sat on both sides of the solitary girl. The woman stood in front and spoke. “Hello girlfriend.”

The greeting surprised the absorbed girl. After a quick glance, she returned her stare at the floor and pretended not to hear – too detached and scared to respond to a stranger.

“Hey girl you okay… You got a name?”

The girl wondered. Might they go away?

No escaping and at a loss for words, she said, “My name is Ellie.”

Allan watched the female vagabond drop her pack to the floor and sit on it to talk to the girl. Outside the glass lobby doors, he spied two shopping carts filled with stuffed plastic bags. He assumed the group to be local derelicts and not worth his interest until the girl turned victim.

The fat man stretched and rested his arm behind Ellie. As the female occupied Ellie with conversation, the other transient sifted through the girl’s bag of stuff. Ellie slid her bag between her knees. The fat man dropped his arm on her shoulder. The woman leaned in and set a hand on the girl’s knee.

“Leave me alone.” Ellie brushed the hustler’s hand off her knee. She attempted to stand, but the fat guy’s arm held her down.

“Ellie would you like to join us for breakfast? We got a McDonald’s close by. You got any money to help with the food? We share a lot.”

She stammered, “No, leave me alone.”

“Ellie, we’re just trying to be friendly and help out. After we eat, we can show you around town.”

Allan shook his head. The scared girl needed assistance. The image of a flapping wet bird in a mud puddle flashed through his head as he moved from his spot. I should mind my own business.

“Good morning my stink’in bunch of jackals, I bring bad news!” Came a loud commanding voice from Allan.

Action in the group stopped. The sun from the skylights caused Ellie to squint from the glare. A silhouette of a body appeared.

Two annoyed men rose from the bench and their female accomplice turned to face a smiling Allan.

“Who the fuck are you asshole?” Bellowed the big fat guy who took a step forward.

“I am the asshole who just called the police to report a robbery and assault in progress by three vagrants at the bus station. You can escape if you leave now.”

Allan faked a glance at the front lobby door and pointed. “The cops run. Get away!”

The startled troublemakers scattered to the side exits. With his back to Ellie, Allan remained silent and still. An uncomfortable and unusual pang of emotion seized his chest. He did not like the feeling; he preferred thoughts and info. Something about this girl sparked interest.

Allan turned to a wide-eyed Ellie. Flashing a half smile, he said, “My name is Allan.”

Ellie focused on Allan’s unblinking and staring eyes. Intuition told her he could be trusted, at least for now. Allan’s gallant act and youth put her at some ease and she needed assistance. “Thanks for the help. I know karate. I was getting ready to attack.”

Alan said, “Karate, where did you learn that?”

“In Tai Chi class.”

“Oh,” he said, “how’s so?”

“I got bullied in gym class, so I got my P.E. credit in an after-school program. My instructor was a black belt.”

“Oh,” Allan said. A pause of awkward silence followed before he asked, “What’s that long skinny box sticking out of your pack.”

“My flute from band. It was a present from my music teacher. She died young from cancer. She told me I have perfect pitch.”

“Oh,” Allan said. Another pause of awkward silence followed before he asked, “You look like you’re on the run – running away from home. You might be a run-a-way like me. You don’t look homeless, not yet anyway.” With a chuckle he said, “They say life is unfair.”

“I’m not a runaway,” said Ellie, “oh, I don’t know. I got a destination, but can’t go any farther. I’m stuck here.”

Allan slipped off his pack, and sat down next to her, but out of her space. “Why? Where are you going?”

Ellie inhaled and exhaled. “I want to go to my grandma’s house nearly a hundred miles more. No bus or taxicab and not wise to hitch hike.”

“Do you have a telephone number?”

“I do have a number, but I don’t own a mobile. I was planning to.”

Allan removed a phone from his pocket. “Be my guest; Give your grandma a call. She’ll come get you or a neighbor will.”

Relief thought Allan. Connect this girl with her grandmother and be on my way – my good deed for the day. I’m not such a bad person. I care.

Ellie unraveled another strand. “She has no idea I’m coming. We’ve actually never met, just talked on the phone. She sends me a twenty-dollar bill on my birthday. So I’m almost a runaway. She might not want me. I planned to show up and she’d have to take me.”

Allan sounded animated, “A most intriguing situation… Well, let’s call and find out. Your granny will greet you with hugs. You help with the dishes, the laundry, the cooking, the floors, and rub her sore feet. Be her little darling.”

Ellie’s posture eased. She pulled her tangled brown hair back. Her wet eyes caught Allan’s attention.

Ellie dialed and a stupid noise squawked with a message. “This number is no longer in service. Please check your records,”

“From my mom’s address book,” she sighed.

“Let’s pull up the directory.” They found no such person.

“My grandma might have died she was sick.”

“Yeah, the older folks do tend to pass on.”

A moment of pondering and Allan spoke up. “Are you hungry? Care to join me for breakfast? There’s a pancake house close by. Feed the stomach, nurture the brain, and refresh the spirit when a plan needs to be made; they say or I say.”

“Huh,” Ellie muttered.

Allan gestured to the door. “Ellie let’s step outside.” She followed dragging her plastic bag behind. He examined the block. “Fine dining on the corner.”

Ellie considered the swanky building facade. “Expensive place to eat, Allan, we will need money.”

Allan noted Ellie used his name for the first time. “Need money, we do and don’t. Depends, but I carry some. Follow my lead and play along.”

“What does play along mean?”

“No worry, you’ll catch on if you’re smart.”

Ellie wondered. Did I stumble upon a friend or more trouble?

A curious Ellie accompanied Allan, now toting her plastic bag, to the restaurant. She asked, “You’re not selling my body or is this a sex thing?”

“Not at all Ellie, this is a pancake, egg, and sausage thing.”

Received at the door a staff person greeted. “Hello travelers, I’m Jolene. I am here to serve you. Care to check your luggage? We cater to tourists visiting our city.”

Once seated, Allan said, “Jolene, the couple at the bus station was correct. This seems like a pleasant place to eat.” Allan pointed to a plant on a shelf. “Wow, Ellie, a Resurrection, Selahginella Lepidopylla, your favorite.”

A confused Ellie stammered, “Oh, yes, you’re right, my favorite.”

Allan addressed a pleasant-looking middle-aged attendant woman and a bus boy in a baggy uniform. “They are so easy to care for. They always come back after a move. Ellie is so busy – home, school, the clinic with the treatments. Ellie, your plant is over ten years. What did you name your green friend?”

Ellie searched her mind for an answer. “Ah, George. George Washington, after my favorite president.”

“Where are you young people from or going?”

“I’m Allan and this is my sister Ellie…”

The waitress interrupted, “Oh yes the family resemblance is clear.” Twins?

Allan and Ellie snapped a quick look at each with eyebrows.

“Why yes, such an eye you have,” he replied. “We are on our way to Denver to visit a close friend. Ellie met Angie while staying at the hospital. We want to visit before she gets too far along. You know how that can go.”

Jolene flashed to an old memory. “Oh yes, I remember my cousin Lucy Ann – hard for the whole family.”

Allan glanced back at Ellie and with a nodding motion expected a reply. At first, she missed the cue, but then said, “Yes, her family is hard and sad.”

“Jolene, regardless of our bad luck and troublesome day, we are here to eat a good hot breakfast and forget about our woes.”

“Troublesome in what kind of way?” The concerned waitperson asked.

“Thank you for your concern Jolene, but we are fine, aren’t we, Ellie?”

Ellie lived life straight and seldom played games putting people on. She repeated back, “Yes, we are very fine now.”

Allan continued the story with arms and hands. “My entire fault. I carry Ellie’s purse for safety. I carelessly left the bag on the bus during a transfer. The bus company said they would forward it back down the line if found and returned. For the last two days, we’ve hung around the station, ate granola bars, and slept on the benches. Not looking good. The purse contained our wallets, credit cards, smart phones, and Ellie’s medicine and records. We still have a bit of cash.”

Ellie took delight in Allan’s command of the situation. Ellie, catching on, confessed to Jolene. “I forgive my brother.”

Allan fidgeted through his pockets and placed three crumpled dollars and an assortment of change on the tabletop. “Jolene, keeping the tip in mind, what might we eat for the cash we got here?”

Ellie pulled out a five dollar to add to the mix.

Jolene smiled. “You guys can eat a lot. Deluxe breakfasts coming up!”

Left alone, an entertained Ellie whispered, “Allan, you are amazing. I can’t believe you pulled this off. You got me playing the game as well. So we dine for free?”

“Almost or at a reduced price, we’ll definitely leave a tip for Jolene. A nice lady.”

Ellie eased back in her chair to ponder the smug kid and then straighten up to say. “Okay, who are you? Where did you come from? Where are you going? And why are you here with me?”

“I’m a runaway from New York city. I’m not in trouble, not wanted by the law, just Social Services. I’m traveling west to the mountains. I thought you might need help considering your predicament.”

“Social Services?” She asked.

“I’m sixteen waiting to be eighteen.”

Ellie responded back. “I’m fifteen and from Chicago. You seem older. If you were older, I’d be scared.”

Allan grinned. “You’re younger huh… If you were older, I might not know what to do with you.”

For Allan, talking about anything and everything was easy, though talking about himself proved more difficult, but not with this girl. For Ellie, confiding so openly to a stranger was unlike her, but not with this boy.

After eating, Jolene came by to clear the dishes. “I talked to my boss. He said you folks can eat free and come by for dinner too. We help folks in trouble. Need a place to sleep? Our church will put you up for the night. She handed them a piece of paper with a phone number and an address to Fellowship Seventh-day Adventist Church. You young people live a good day. Bye now.”

“Thank you and good bye, Jolene. We appreciate your kindness.”

Ellie said, “They think we are in trouble. Is that OK?”

Allan laughed. “We are kids, under-aged, without homes, nowhere to go, and little money. We are in trouble and need to lie about our ages, so we don’t get picked up.”

“Are we traveling together now?”

“Sorry, I tend to the future a lot. You’re in a jam. Are you going to back to Chicago?”

Ellie posed an indecisive face.

“You’re not happy with your mom and without relatives.”

The homeless girl inquired, “So now what?”

Without much thought for the consequences, the private and aloof Allan said, “I came into town to get a meal, a shower, do laundry, get off the road for a day, spend a night in a bed, some TV, catch up on the news – feel like a real person for a while. Ellie, you’re welcome to share a room in a motel with me. No strings attached. You need a break from reality until you come up with a plan.”

Ellie eyebrows lifted. Her body language shifted backwards. “Uh, I’m not ready for sex yet.”

An indifferent Allan said, “Don’t worry, neither am I. Can’t be sure I know how anyway.” He joked, “Maybe I’m gay.” He wagged his finger. “No raping allowed. Do you understand Dearie.”

A reassured Ellie said, “You are a weird one. What is your last name by the way?”

“Doe.”

“That’s an odd last name.”

“I was an abandoned baby with a bunch of health issues. I spent the first two years of my life in hospitals as a John Doe baby. Somewhere along the line, I turned into an Allan Doe.”

Ellie’s next request surprised Allan, but her astute behavior impressed him. “Can you show me some identification?”

He obliged, pulled his wallet, and presented several pieces from New York Social Services.

After examining his credentials, Ellie stared at Allan for a while. She peered into the mysterious lad as if she was reading his mind. He sensed the penetration, but allowed the intrusion.

“Okay, Allan, we on a date for one night in a motel room.”

Lodging in the Interstate 80 area, presented a number of accommodations for travelers and the displace couple.

“Ellie, I prefer three star motels like a Holiday Inn right down the street. To be honest, if I was alone, a Motel 6 would be fine. But today I am entertaining a guest so let us live well. They say life is short.”

“Allan you carry a lot of cash?”

“Sometimes I do, but I have a credit card.”

“Oh no, not a stolen credit card. I don’t do stuff like that!”

“No, not stolen. It’s my card in the name of Allan Doe. And I even have a decent credit rating.”

“How can you get a card? You’re too young with no job.”

Allan stopped walking, set down her plastic bag, and faced her. “Ellie trust me. Once we get a room, I’ll bring my card up on my tablet and show you my account and the room charge. I also possess a bank account. And yes, I am too young and that’s my problem. I’m too damn young! People won’t leave me alone. But I work. I’m self-employed, self-educated, self-reliant, self-raised, self-everything… and I’m very smart.”

The moment lingered as she stared into his eyes. Okay, Allan I believe you.” She picked up her plastic bag. “I’ll carry for a while. A shower after a long bus ride would be nice.”

A peculiar situation awaited Ellie, a young female with retarded confidence. Naïve to what life takes or offers, she could become easy prey to a cruel world. Yet, she possessed the gumption to circumvent the unhealthy lifestyle of her mother. A unique version of Ellie arrived, possibly overdue, but landing because of a random encounter with an impish compelling man-child.

 

Chapter 9 – Old Man

When you live at 10,762 feet on the Continental Divide and it is January, and the sky is blue and bright and the snow is powder and the air is calm, your dog will bite you in the ass if you do not take him for a romp in the mountains.

I pulled away from my computer to get some exercise outdoors with Cody.

Cody and I hiked our favorite trail through the timberline up to the tundra. The wind left patches of snow and barren ground, so snowshoes were unnecessary. The route passes an old goldfield with numerous abandoned mines and a ghost town with a few remaining structures.

I approached the onetime post office remarkably intact with walls and a roof. Someone inside peeked out of a busted window frame. Cody greeted with a warning bark.

Out the door-less entrance, stepped a ghost dog. At least the creature looked like one – pure albino white. The animal’s pale eyes glared.

My attention shifted back to the window where an old dude appeared.

“Welcome and thank you for coming,” came a pleasant greeting

I might have laughed at the remark and the developing situation, but I was a little agitated. Never do I find someone up here this time of year. I anticipated isolation not company. An older man and dog walked from the stonework the structure rested on. He dressed in rough cloth and leather tailored to his physique. To add to his mystique, he carried a wooden staff, a sack backpack, and a skin water bag. The unleashed dog stuck to his side. The odd couple approached us and stopped at a safe distance. Awkward pause. The guy grinned as if he expected me to say something.

Since I keep to myself these days, sometimes I am not tactful when addressing people. “Where did you come from?”

Cody barked sensing my authoritarian tone.

The strangers stayed in place and said, “Good man, you might be the traveler passing through our world.”

I said nothing and prepared to move on. I had no interest in a chat. However, the tail wagging Cody sashayed over to the ghost dog and soon the two were prancing across the terrain.

“My dog’s name is Lucy… in the Sky with Diamonds.”

“Oh no,” I thought, “a joke or a leftover Beatles fan.” I wanted to be in my customary alone state and now Cody is in love.

As long as Cody was in eyeshot, he could cavort in the sunshine with a pretty female. I settled on a chair-sized rock and prepared myself for conservation with the intruder.

Lucy’s long haired, bearded owner sat opposite.

My turn to talk. “My dog’s name is Cody. What is your name?”

The eccentric guy beamed a stupid grin and said, “They call me the Quantum Monk or QT.”

I repeated, “Quantum Monk? That is your name?”

“No, that is my title, or better yet description. I have no name.”

The skeptic in me forced the question “You have no proper name?”

“No, sir, I do not.”

Too weird for me. Mental, drugs, screwing with me.

I chose not to ask more or investigate. Get a crazy person mad, they pull out a gun and shoot you.

I was not shopping for a new friend, nor did I care for one. I was content with one dog, minding my business, and doing my book thing, wherever that was going.

I stood and yelled for Cody to return.

“Gotta be going, bye. Cody, let’s go Buddy.”

QT said, “See you again, someday.”

See me again… How presumptuous…

I headed up the trail and a reluctant Cody caught up.

“Sorry Cody, but I’m in no mood for a new friend. I got old stuff bothering me.”

 

Chapter 10 – Happenings

The Oklahoman

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Saturday January 17, 2018

Woman Reports Molestation by Aliens

The Bethany City Police Department placed Mary Tomecko in custody for the disappearance and the alleged murder of her 17-year-old daughter Bernadette Tomecko reported missing by her boyfriend Willis Ford. Police arrested the woman at her home found covered in blood and the scene of a violent struggle. Tomecko claims she woke at night to the screams of her daughter who was being molested by extraterrestrial aliens and shot an attacker with a shotgun before being rendered unconscious. Tomecko also reported their bodies look a lot like ours but they have no faces. A family dog and cat were found dead. County District Attorney Robin Gleason reports Mariah Tomecko is under suicide-watch and being held without bond. The state crime lab is investigating the scene.

 

 

Doctor Emmett Brock, the designated federal official at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, received a report from the Oklahoma State Crime Lab. He forward the email down the hallway to a colleague named, Doctor James McGriff, Public Health Blood Services. He tagged it: James see me about this today. Before lunch, Emmett and James sat together.

“James, I wanted to run this item by you. Something like this, I don’t want slipping through cracks. What do you think?”

“Emmett, we have two separate blood samples from the same location or crime scene. One sample has no biological classification, or is unearthly. We can dismiss that sample as a mistake in collection protocol, but the other sample should garner our attention – an unknown human blood type void of any antigens or antibodies makes the blood universally compatible with any blood type – the perfect blood donor. Even more remarkable is the presence of the pou5f-1 marker, which indicates the existence of stem cells. The biology suggests a body capable of renewing or rebuilding itself, capable of repairing its own organs, healing itself, more so than ours. I’m speculating here – grow a missing finger or an entire limb – the physiology for the ideal organ donor or in another context the perfect body for cloning organs.”

“Thanks for your opinion James. Any more blood samples we can further test or study?”

“I am working on a lead from the Army. A private in boot camp, vanished and left no trace. His bunkmates reported a kidnapping or intruders – very odd story and puzzling the Pentagon. Before his disappearance, he was injured in a training accident and we took a blood sample from the kid. The blood works indicated the same strange results, but were dismissed as too bizarre.”

 

Chapter 11 – Motel Room

After a shower, Ellie stepped out of the bathroom to the smell of hot delivered pizza.

Allan, still wearing his parka sat on a chair with a blanket over his lap in front of the television broadcasting a stream of news, his mobile in hand. In the corner of the room, his backpack sat disassembled. On the bed lay his tablet.

Ellie was towel-drying her hair when she said, “Take off your coat, and stay awhile.”

He said, “I’m almost naked. My clothes are washing in the laundry room. I already took a shower in the locker room by the pool.”

Ellie sat on the bed. “I had a clean change in my plastic bag.”

“Hey roomie, we’re eating Italian tonight. Check out the little bottles of liquor in the refrigerator.”

Time placed the two on top of the bed with the box of pizza and assorted little bottles between them. They took turns with the TV remote surfing You Tube music videos, sampling liquor, and small-talking.

“Taylor Swift plans to run for president.”

“Look who won the last election, I’m not surprised.”

Allan, considering himself informed, clicked to the news feeds. “There goes Miami – swallowed by the ocean. I guess New York and L.A. will follow.”

“Our bad luck, we’re so young. Depressing. Go to science and education.”

“Ellie are you the nerdy type?”

“I’m well-read.”

Without little thought, Ellie touched the screen of Allan’s tablet and a chessboard popped-up. “You play chess Allan.”

“I’m a master.”

The grinning mug of old man Oscar appeared in Ellie’s mind followed by Anna. “Few people play chess these days.”

“Do you?”

“I do. A man named Oscar taught me. He passed on. His wife Anna had to leave. All too soon for me. They made a difference. Maybe why I’m still here.” She started to weep.

Allan retrieved tissue from the nightstand. This girl needs a hug.

Allan did not give real hugs. He did not get them as a baby, and he did not need them now, but intellectually understood why other people did and could hug this girl. Walking to her side of the bed, he sat alongside with his arm on her shoulder. Ellie reached for a tissue, dried her eyes, wiped her nose, and rested her head on him – a quiet and satisfying moment for both.

“Allan, would you care for a game of chess?”

The unexpected question delighted him. “Why yeah Ellie, I’d love a game.” I hope she can play a decent game.

Allan won the first game easily, but Ellie won the next several games. Allan confessed, “Ellie, I only lose in tournaments or to my online Russian friend, a grad student in Moscow. Not to a…”

“A girl in high school.”

“No, I met ah… lay person.”

“My friend, Oscar, read the Encyclopedia of Chess Openings. We’d practice a lot. Seems long ago… Here I am drinking liquor in bed with a strange man – just like my mother.”

“I don’t consider myself strange. I prefer special – as they say in foster care. And if you’re implying your mom gets drunk and has sex with strangers, we’re still wearing our clothes.”

Ellie said, “I wonder, what’s next for me?”

Allan responded by clicking the television on. No commitment. No Baggage.

Ellie tucked her pillow and turned on her side. “Good night Allan.”

“Ellie, we’ll figure something out in the morning when we check out.”

 

Chapter 12 – Silverstone and Crum

A director’s meeting convened in downtown Denver on the twelfth floor of a glass and steel high-rise. At the head of a long rectangular table sat Horace Silverstone, owner of the enterprise, a dapper middle age man in a three-piece suite with good hair.

A director spoke. “Mr. Silverstone, the acquisition of claims and private properties in the upper Fall River Basin, Alice, and St. Mary’s are sixty-five percent complete. Stubborn landowners, in the right-of-way, refusing to sell still exists. However, aggressive tactics using eminent domain laws prevail. Our alliances with federal, state, and county government remain steadfast, as are our investment partners. The dream of your late father is close to fruition.”

Silverstone stood and walked around the table as he spoke. “What about the EPA and Forest Service permits for the roadways and land use?”

“I will speak to the issue,” responded another jacket and tie. “Procedural matters continue, but all is ready for legislative approval. Permits for the expansion of two lanes to four lanes up the Fall River Valley are forthcoming. Permits are pending for the construction of a four lane parkway from the mountain casinos into our development.”

Starring out a picture window, Silverstone mused. “Timing gentlemen, my father had a vision, but before his time. I own property in a county whose cities are flirting with bankruptcy and declining revenues, as well as, a state budget under similar circumstances. I will accommodate ski areas, casinos, and hotels looking to expand interests and revenues. Silverstone Corp will access expanses of mountain tundra and thirteen-thousand-foot snow-capped peaks ready to host the largest resort on the eastern slopes and the retailers to follow. And gentlemen, if that was not enough, we will own the vast mineral rights and use twenty-first century technology to mine previously unreachable deposits.”

Silverstone spewed a hearty laugh. “The rich get richer and play while the poor keep working.”

The automatons giggled along.

Legal investigator Bruce Crum approached the receptionist’s desk. A stocky middle-aged man with a rough complexion and thinning hair, he dressed in an unflattering wrinkled suit. “Hi gorgeous, is the main man available?”

“He’s finishing up a meeting Mr. Crum.”

Although Crum never passed his bar exam, he made a very good living as a zealous private detective who always got the job done. Shortly, Crum approached Silverstone dressed in a vest and tie walking on a treadmill positioned near his desk. Silverstone, a germaphobe, did not shake hands.

“Well Bruce, this is unexpected. I found your research about stubborn land owners very helpful.”

Crum settled into a chair. “Glad to be of service Horace. I’m working on an investigation for another client and discovered some information that might be of interest to you.”

Silverstone sneered, “Money before scruples.” He stepped off the machine and moved to his desk chair.

“That is what I like about you Bruce. We are birds of the same feather. Care for a drink?”

“Gin and tonic.”

Silverstone yelled out the open door, “Red Bull and a gin and tonic. So tell me, Bruce.”

“A Cherry Creek jeweler and gold dealer asked me to investigate a man exchanging large sized gold nuggets. Here are the pictures. Silverstone glanced at the photographs and then pulled out a magnifying glass to inspect.”

“Remarkable nuggets, not seen often.”

Crum explained more. “I got a plate number off an old Harley he drives. A background check tells me the owner of those nuggets is a mine owner-operator in the old Alice mining district. His mine named Sarah is around eleven thousand feet, over a hundred years old, and registered to a family named Simms, three siblings actually. The claim overlooks your ski area from the opposite side of the valley. There is no mining activity in the area.”

“No, there is not; I would know that.”

Crum sipped at his drink to allow Silverstone time examine a file folder.

“This Simms name is not on my property list for buyouts or right-of-ways, probably because it’s on the other side of the valley.”

Crum continued, “I assayed a sample for content and compared them to data on record of other older mineral samples from different geographical areas. The data match gold samples found in Clear Creek County a hundred and fifty plus years ago.”

Silverstone settled back into the chair and thought for a while. “These nuggets could have been collected a century ago and tucked away.”

“Horace, I’m suspicious. This old man Simms just dumped a bunch of nuggets on the market. A mystery – are you interested considering he’s in your valley?”

After a minute of thought, Silverstone rose to close his office door. Standing staring in front of Crum, he asked, “How would you solve this mystery, Bruce?”

Crum spoke in a quiet tone. “We need to get into the mine and his residence and poke around for info. If I proceed, a verbal-cash arrangement and laws will be broken.”

Silverstone returned to his chair and rested his shoes on his desk. “My curiosity has the best of me Bruce. Do it.”

 

Chapter 13 – Secrets

Ellie and Allan spent their first night together on top of the covers and in their street clothes. Their common haunting histories returned, but in a strange way. A foreign entity intruded into their sleeping minds and inserted the same disturbing nightmare.

Allan and Ellie are strapped and restrained in chairs on opposite sides of a dark room. They face each other. A big head caricature sniggers, “Muahahahaha.” Devilish fiends tease and bully the helpless pair. Fireballs fly. Squealing noises split ears. They choke on noxious smoky air. They struggle for breath like drowning victims. The creatures yank at their limbs and try to rip their bodies apart. Forced to witness the other’s torment, they endure their own terror as well.

Jerked out of the nightmare together, Allan and Ellie woke startled and beaded with sweat. Clutching each other, they found comfort. Calming down, both realized without a spoken word, they shared the same terrifying dream. Ellie clung to Allan with labored breaths. She sobbed, “How can we have the same dream? It’s weird and scary.”

Allan had no answer at first, but then said, “All life long, I’ve been tortured in sleep. The same dream repeating where I’m cut up and scattered… ongoing struggle for me.”

Ellie pulled away to search for Allan’s eyes in the shadows.

“And I… Me too. A chasing dream, animals run after me. The same dream over and over.”

A pause until Ellie asked, “What is it about you and me?”

The two rested against the headboard.

Allan adjusted his pillow for comfort. “So strange Ellie, very weird. We share a nightmare. Let’s hope this passes as a onetime freaky event.”

“Allan, weird dreams in a motel room with a stranger… Are we different or alike?”

Allan banged his head against the wall several times.

After a long pause, he said, “As far as different… I am.” He stopped talking.

She looked at him and smiled. “I don’t care if you’re gay. I’ve had gay friends. How else could we spend a night in bed like this?”

His eyes focused on the ceiling. Ridicule… Rejection… Friendship… Relationships… Male… Female…

“I may or may not be gay.”

She asked, “What are you saying?”

He said flatly, “I’m sexual immature.” He waited for a response. In his mind hid a secret and a shame never revealed to anyone – especially a female.

“Sexually immature, Allan, what does that mean?”

“I’ve never reached or got to puberty or something’s wrong, I’m dysfunctional. I can’t do it.”

He stopped staring at the ceiling and glanced at her.

Ellie’s eyes drifted away.

He continued, “I got the parts… It’s just my body won’t perform. Only you know my secret.”

Ellie remained silent without eye contact.

“I think I could be attracted to a woman, but I don’t know.”

Ellie broke into laughter.

Allan sunk into the mattress as if to hide and cry.

“Oh Allan, I’m sorry.” Ellie rolled on top of the deflated lad, caressed his head, and kissed the confused boy on the forehead. “Just what is it about us? Dear Allan – two strangers from different cities with the same creepy dream, run-a-ways who accidentally meet and wind up in bed together in a motel room in Iowa and seem to get along. So I ask you, just what is it about us?”

Allan said, “I don’t understand. Just what is it, what… Huh?”

Ellie raised her voice in a pleasant pitch. “Just what is it? It is us. I think we are entangled as in quantum physics.”

“I’m sorry, quantum physics, you know quantum physics?”

“I read a lot. I enjoy a good science book… My man-child.”

“Oh, here it starts. You’re making fun of me. Is that quantum physics too?”

“Allan, we are so much alike our destinies may be entangled. And like you, I’ve been waiting for the same thing – puberty. Man-child meet woman-child.”

Allan paused to think. Unbelievable situation! A rush of emotion surged, unusual for him.

“Ellie please understand, by circumstance and choice, I’ve always been a person without friends or family. I don’t need people. I use them. They say I’m a psychopath.”

Ellie replied, “I hear voices and see things. They say I’m a schizoid. So today, you woke up in bed with your crazy sister… Now what?”

Allan settled into his side of the bed to ponder. Something about this girl?

His silence tampered Ellie spirits causing her to say, “Brother, might you buy sis a bus ticket home? I’ll find a way to pay you back.”

“Ellie, I’m on a journey to Colorado. I plan to walk, hitchhike, camp-out, and check in to a motel room once in a while. Money isn’t a real problem; there are ways. You’re welcome to come along or I can get you a bus ticket.”

“Allan, I read the journey is more important than the destination. I’m not happy with my mom and her boyfriends, and no relatives. I prefer a road trip to a bus ticket… At least for now.”

He reasoned. Female, good chess player, smart, and amusing.

“Okay Ellie, we lie about our ages and play brother and sister – twins make for a great story. People will love it. Truck drivers, truck stops and other teenagers can be trouble. We stay out of the back of pickup trucks to avoid attention. We use churches in an emergency. College towns are excellent. Make friends with the students to find a place to crash. Look clean, Don’t smell. No begging on street corners. When hiking across the county, we avoid farmhouses and barns. Keep off main roads. In addition, most importantly, we are always polite, so people want to help us. What do ya think?”

The lit up girl expressed hope. “Brother, that’s a fine plan.”

The delinquent urchin winked. “A scheme for a couple of kids on the run.”

“Sounds like a great adventure. I never had a brother or a twin.”

 

Chapter 14 – Lucy

Three-thirty in the morning and wide-awake, I came down from the loft and built a fire to warm the chilled air. Cody went outside and I wrote for a couple of hours on the computer.

The sun was up. My stomach gurgled reminding me to eat.

I heard barking. Two dogs barked, not one. Looking out the window, I saw Cody whiz by followed by the white ghost dog. The dogs reversed directions and Cody chased. They circled the cabin and darted around the trees.

I thought about my privacy. The crazy codger must be close by and getting ready to knock on my door.

No uninvited visitors! Might not answer the door.

I peered out the peephole anticipating an intruder. No one in sight.

For the next few days, the visiting Lucy came and went to Cody’s delight.

Lucy began accompanying Cody and me on our daily jaunts up the mountain. Often she is in front of the house or on the trail waiting as if she reads our minds. After a hike and time around the cabin, she would fade into the trees and disappear until another day.

I only fed her treats. She did not touch Cody’s food bowl, so I assumed she got meals elsewhere. Perhaps the old guy was bedridden, so she came by for exercise.

I did not mind an extra dog around and Cody liked her. She was a good trail dog who came when called and stayed in place.

I kept expecting the old man to come by and get his dog. I was annoyed. He would come unannounced, invade my privacy, and start talking to me.

Don’t talk, don’t invite him in, he will go away.

I’ve developed a contempt for humanity. We’re such assholes.

For several days my life seemed distracted anticipating, this guy’s pending arrival, but he never came.

Is he dead… dying out there somewhere?

I could put a leash on Lucy, lock her in the fenced yard, and call the dogcatcher. Might that be a betrayal?

 

Chapter 15 – Buddha Trek

Before leaving Davenport, Ellie and Allan shopped a secondhand store and a local outfitter where they switched Ellie’s needless items for a sleeping bag, a serious backpack, wool socks, hiking shoes, and dried foods.

Pleasant weather escorted the fresh alliance out of town. They avoided the interstate traffic and noise by trekking along the frontage road. The sun tracked the horizon as they chattered and lost track of the hour.

Allan said, “I’m a crack baby, never knew my mother so I assume my brain is not properly wired and my emotions are fucked up. I don’t cry much and when I do, it’s about me and not other people.”

Ellie said, “You seem happy and laugh,”

“Yah, I am as long as I’m in control. I get by with my high IQ. I’m too smart to do something super-stupid. I got enough drama in my life… I think life as an adventure or even a video game. Many people carry around a big bag of shit – drama. I avoid them – and most people are stupid or ignorant. So I keep to myself and everything is business. Keep life simple by exclusion; no one gets in.”

“Then why are you with me? I must be a pain with all my problems.”

“Well… you’re different. You can beat me in chess and you are well-read so you don’t bore me.”

“Anna and Oscar bought me a tablet for my birthday because I wasn’t doing well in school. I’d hide out in the lunchroom, library, or vacant classrooms and read.”

Allan said, “I attend school during the winter months. When the temperatures drop or the snowfalls, I check in to Social Services, get placed in a new home and school. School – such a waste. I already know all the material so kids and even teachers don’t like me. I like to ask questions they can’t answer.”

“Shame on you.”

Allan responded, “I’m curious,” and then asked, “I have a question for you. What’s in your bag of shit?”

Ellie said, “Something may be wrong with Eleanor – as the school nurse told my mom. I’m not a real schizoid or autistic. I just have a busy brain that sensitive-hyperactive, so I avoid most people to avoid embarrassing moments. I’m not really a shy person.”

“You don’t seem to be avoiding me.”

“Allan my friend, you are okay, and I am okay. We are entangled and empowered.”

Allan laughed and brushed a bug from his face. “The sun is setting.”

Ellie suggested, “Might we make a camp by those trees?”

“We couldn’t ask for a nicer evening.”

The pair located a grassy area between a cornfield and the roadway where they pitched the tent and made camp. Outside the tent, they were watching the sun set below the horizon when Allan said, “Sunsets make me cry and sad.”

Ellie looked at Allan’s face. “You’re not crying now. Are you sad?”

“No, I’m not. That’s why I said it, as a matter of fact. I’m wondering why.”

“Let me know when you figure it out.”

“I did. It’s because I always watch them by myself.”

“That’s not good. Anna and Oscar lived in a dingy apartment, but it had a big window facing south. In the evenings, we could eat and play games and watch the sun set over city.”

“Ellie, this is my first time… with you. Watching a sunset with a person.”

“Allan, we can watch the moon together.”

Ellie browsed the skies. What resembled a shooting star or meteor fell and disappeared into the cornfield. “Did you see that?”

“No, what?”

Several more popped in quick session taking them both by surprise.

“Wow, I saw that!”

A scan of the landscape produced no other bogies.

“Meter shower or stars?”

“Seems too low and close to and not far away.”

Allan gazed into the cornfield. “Strange, those dark shapes. Not there before… I think.” He pointed for Ellie.

She said, “They look like a string of scarecrows in a field.”

“Yes. Maybe. No. Scarecrows don’t move.”

“Allan, they’re moving our way.”

A line of ambiguous silhouettes approached Allan and Ellie. The end figures closed on their sides as if trying to surround the couple. The vague shadows advanced.

“This ain’t right.” Allan grabbed Ellie’s hand. “Run to the highway.”

They ran across the frontage road and up a rise to the interstate. They stood at the roadside like deer in headlights. Annoyed speeding vehicles, not expecting their presence, honked their horns. Stuck on the roadside pavement, they hunkered together. Allan waved an arm for aid. Ignored. Their backs to the traffic, they scrutinized the countryside for the perceived menacing apparition. Nothing. The noise and lights of speeding cars and trucks whizzed by, too close for comfort.

Allan said, “I got a funny feeling and we shouldn’t stay here.”

Ellie said, “Let’s hike to the next exit. Those lights, is that a gas station or mini-mart?”

At the Road Mart, Allan and Ellie purchased a beverage and regrouped. “We got to go back in the morning for our stuff. My mobiles are in the backpack.”

The two talked to the clerk “Our car quit on us a mile down the road. I can fix the thing in daylight. You mind if we hang out till morning?”

Behind the store, Ellie and Allan slept on flattened cardboard boxes in the shadows of a security light, where they huddled and cuddled for warmth and safety. They woke to a clash of garbage cans and a store clerk smoking a cigarette at the back door. When the sun peeped over the horizon, they returned to the campsite.

“Dead bird,” said Allan.

Ellie pointed. “Another.”

Stopping short of the tent, the two surveyed the immediate area.

“Allan, look over there, more dead birds.”

“Let’s pack up and get out of here.”

Back on the frontage road trekking west, the two consumed a boxed juice and a granola bar as they walked and talked.

“Our Buddha Trek,” Allan said, “As he traveled from India to China, we travel from Chicago and New York squalor to Colorado Rocky Mountain high.”

“Are you a Buddhist?”

“I’m a nothing. I don’t want to belong to anything. The human race embarrasses me.” He laughed. “I refuse to join any club that will have me as a member.”

Ellie said, “You snatched that line from Groucho Marx.”

“Wow,” he responded, “you really-really are well read. He died long before our time.”

Allan proceeded to step forward, stumbled into an animal burrow, and tumbled to the ground with a painful yelp. “Ouch!”

“Are you okay?”

“I can walk.” He got up and immediately collapsed. “Ow-ow-ow.”

Allan tried again with Ellie’s assistance, but fell to the ground. “Ouch!”

Sitting on his butt with spooked eyes, Allan kept repeating, “Shit-damn-shit-damn…”

“Allan,” said Ellie, “Allan…”

“Shit-damn-shit-damn-shit…”

Ellie covered his mouth with her hand to stop his uttering. “Allan, are you okay?”

“I hate this. I can’t walk. I’m helpless. Look at me the big pain in the ass problem. Where’s my frickin control?”

“Well, be okay.”

“Are you going to take care of me?”

“Yah, I am. It’s my turn to help-out. Make yourself comfortable. I’ll go get us a ride.”

Allan relinquished control and thought. I like her.

Twenty minutes later, Ellie returned with two males, dressed as snow boarders, named Bongo and Tonto. As they approached, one greeted. “Hey dude, your sister says you broke your foot.”

Ten minutes later, Ellie and Allan found themselves in the back seat of a rusting primer gray 1988 Lincoln Town Car. The shared the space under and among luggage, plastic bags, boxes, a coffee make, toaster, and a microwave,

The driver Bongo said, “Hey dude, we’re students on our way to Iowa State.”

“We’re students too,” said Allan.

Tonto scrutinized the pair. “Are you two twins?”

Ellie smiled at the remark, “Why yes, people ask that a lot.”

“What are your majors?” asked Allan.

Bongo said, “We’re undeclared.”

“Yah, undeclared,” said the Tonto. “Maybe horticulture. I get off on growing stuff. You guys got majors?”

Ellie said, “Music, I play flute.”

Allan said, “Math. I like numbers.”

Tonto asked, “Your foot still hurt? I got my blaster loaded with primo bud.” He extended his arm to the backseat with a smoking device.

Almost in his face, Allan took the pipe and the accompanying Bick lighter.

Ellie said to Allan. “They say that stuff is medicinal.”

Allan replied, “They do say that, Ellie. That they do.”

A few miles down the road, Bongo informed. “Hey you guys, spring’s a most excellent time to move to town – lots of vacant apartments. The seniors graduate, the freshmen move into dorms or go Greek.”

Bongo said, “Check out our complex. That’s where we’re go’in, if you don’t mind stoners. We just switched to a bigger space with two windows – right across the hallway.”

Tonto said, “Hey Ellie, I should be a music major. I got every tune in the world on my pod. You should hear it someday.”

Ellie remained silent.

Tonto continued, “So where ya staying in town.”

Allan answered, “Well that’s why we have our camping equipment. We’ll be staying at the KOA camp ground until we locate a crib.”

Tonto said, “Bongo, we’re moving and our old rent is paid to the end of the month. You think Ellie and her brother can stay in our old place and check things out. They could rent the old place?”

“Well ya, can you help us move?” asked Bongo.

Allan feared losing control. “Oh, I wouldn’t be much help with my foot. It might be broken.”

Tonto said, “Oh I wouldn’t worry about that.”

Allan looked at Ellie seeking agreement. She flashed a reassuring smile, “Don’t worry Allan, I can handle it, and you need time to heal.”

Ellie addressed Bongo and Tonto. “When we get into town, can we take my brother to an emergency room for an x-ray? Then we’ll go unpack and move you guys.”

“No problem,” said Tonto.

A woman in charge… thought Allan.

At the hospital, Allan’s foot x-rayed broken and spent the day in lines seeing a specialist, nurses, and eventually getting a walking cast on the foot. Ellie assisted Bongo and Tonto at the apartment complex and they returned later in the day to pick up Allan.

Ellie, lugging Allan’s pack greeted, “Welcome Bro to our sanctuary.”

Allan, sporting a cane, hobbled into a third floor studio unit, one of twenty-four units down the street from the football stadium in a neighborhood containing fraternities, sororities, and dorms.

“Sanctuary, sanctuary,” cried Allan hunching his spine and tottering about like Quasimodo. His antics brought Ellie to laughter.

They circled the room, peeked out the window, and checked the closet and bath.

“No furniture, no bed,” Ellie said.

“No bed. That’s alright.”

“Well… Beds can be alright. My mother has a nice bed.”

“I once had a good bed in a foster home.”

“The room does have a soft cushy carpet. We’ll roll out our sleeping bags on the floor.” Ellie picked a spot along a wall and rolled out her bag. Allan, limping about, had a harder time deciding where to unroll. “I’ll take this wall. We can have the window and the sun between us.”

Ellie said, “Our Colorado adventure is postponed, and we are grounded.”

“Ellie, we’re okay with money for a while. I can cover rent and food for a couple of months, the hospital bill is on the credit card, but soon we’ll have to hustle up more cash.”

“They say enjoy the moment while we can… By the way, Tonto invited me over a for a pizza party to hear all his music – and I can bring my brother.”

Allan thought for a moment. “Is that a good thing?”

“I told him I have mono and should rest a lot for the next few weeks, but I plan to party-hearty when I’m healthy.”

“Wow Ellie, you’re quite the game player.”

“I learned from you.”

Ellie removed a tin whistle flute from her backpack. “Look what I can do.” She began playing a simple but lively Irish jig. After a few rounds, she started skipping to the music. Her eyes grinned like an elf. “Since you’re stuck on your butt, I will teach you to play. Not hard at all.” She acquired a second cheap flute from a local pawn.

As the next days passed, their bedrolls moved closer together. Soon they were lying next to each other and facing the window.

A week after the accident, Allan returned to have his foot x-rayed again to check the set. Coming out of the examination room, he told Ellie. “It’s no longer broken!”

“Allan, what do you mean?”

“It’s mended or fixed or healed. Actually, they said maybe the x-ray tech made a mistake or they don’t know – so I wear the cast another week to be safe.”

Allan and Ellie attended several Greek parties and visited a college bar where ID’s were not too important and Tonto bought her a drink. For hours and days, Ellie and Allan practiced scales, melodies, and harmonies.

Late evening, Ellie sat upright against the wall with flute in hand. Often she would lull Allan, to sleep with a soothing lullaby. Tonight, Ellie’s deep mellow flute produced a serene melody of healing magical sounds. She played until she found him whimpering and stopped.

Allan asked, “What is that you play? Does it have a name?”

“All Love Can Be by James Horner from the movie Beautiful Mind.”

“Does it have words?” he asked.

Ellie sang the lyrics in the voice of an angel.

 

“I will watch you in the darkness

Show you love will see you through

When the bad dreams wake you crying

I’ll show you all love can do

All love can do

I will watch through the night

Hold you in my arms

Give you dreams where no one will be

I will watch through the dark

Till the morning comes”

 

Allan crumbled into an embryonic ball and wept as his body trembled.

Ellie caressed him as he cried. Eventually he said, “Ellie, I’m a conditional love type person. I don’t get the real stuff. Maybe you’re here because you’re convenient. I’m using you for my own gain. I am a user. You deserve love in return.”

“Allan, love is not something you give back or return. It just happens.”

“I could be missing parts or wires.”

“Allan, you’ll figure it out. I glad you’re here. Brother or friend, I love you. We’re a lucky pair. Good night, sleep tight.” Ellie kissed him on each eye, then his lips, and slid into her bag.

Rare words and touching for Allan who then said, “Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite. Ellie, must I worry about bugs?”

“Yes Allan, we have no bed bugs or bananas.”

He smiled. “You’re well-read alright.”

The day arrived when the cast came off the foot. Ellie was sitting next to the apartment window reading a book from the campus library; she borrowed Tonto’s library card.

Through the doorway jumped a bouncing cast-less Allan. “Did ya know I can dance? Girl, give this whacky kid a jig on a flute?”

She obliged and Allan danced, leaped, and skipped about in a most artful fashion.

“Where or how did you learn all that,” she asked.

“Gophering drugs for a traveling band of wild and crazy Irish Dancers.”

“Huh?”

“Well Ellie, I use to make a buck in New York fetching drugs for restaurants, clubs, and theaters – a service for rich folk run behind the scenes, back doors and alley ways. The theater people on Broadway were the coolest. So I made contact with a troupe of Irish dancers, delivered to their hotel rooms and parties. Dancers and musicians are a riot. Here, let me show you the basic step, so easy.”

In an unpredictable and amazing short time, the music and dance connected the couple in a rehabilitating reconstructive way. Rehearsals became bonding rituals that elevated them to a spiritual or mystical plane. They took turns singing and dancing to each other’s flute. For kicks, they practiced under a tree on the campus green and discovered they could draw a small crowd.

Early in the morning, Allan stepped out of the bathroom to behold a chest-naked Ellie. She was dressing.

“Holy shit Ellie, you have breasts.”

“I do. I am a woman and women have breasts.” Erect she stood, chin up and indifferent to his stare.

“I mean, yeah of course, but you always dress baggy in layers. It’s hard to tell. The lines, curves, the shape of your… A classic, perfect example of female anatomy.”

“I’ve gained some weight and filled out. I’m still growing.”

A silent Ellie allowed Allan’s curious approach. He rested his hands on her bare shoulders and slowly slid his palm-open hands across her clavicle and sternum, cupped her fleshy parts, and then caressed the curve in her waist. Looking into eyes and very close, they kissed.

“My turn to see yours.” She unbuttoned his shirt.

“Ellie, I’ve heard about this game.”

Nestled together in the corner of the room, under a dim light, snug in their combined sleeping bags, Allan remarked. “Besides your body, you must have an incredible brain. You always beat me in chess.”

“I do have an incredible brain and I’m a good chess player, but I win because I hear your thoughts. You’re a very loud thinker. You should spend less time thinking and move quicker.”

“You read my mind? You win because you…”

“Yep, hear and see things – extreme intuition to the max. Do I scare you?”

“Ah… No, but you are becoming a very mysterious person. I used to think I was superior.”

“Maybe I’m your equal.”

“Yeah equal… All the time you know what’s in my head?”

“No, not all the time. Comes and goes. Maybe we should play speed chess. The odds will be more even.”

“Ellie, now that I’m healed up. We need to think about money. Funds are running low. We got a credit card with payments. What about Colorado or do we pay another month’s rent?”

A chance for cash dropped in a hat moved the budding musicians to a downtown river park along the Mississippi at the weekend farmer’s market. The area hosted assorted venders, orators, and entertainers. That Sunday afternoon, a troupe of traveling troubadours who spent summers chasing Renaissance Fairs, witnessed Allan and Ellie entertaining with flutes, song, and dance.

“Check out this dude and dudette. They do put on a show… Cute couple.”

Attracted by the young amateur street act, the troubadours gestured with their musical instruments. “May we join in?”

The traveling troupe accompanied, danced, and sang a nonsense rhyme to Ellie and Allan’s jig. An amused crowd gathered.

From a KWQC-TV6 van parked down the street, a mobile camera team appeared on a slow news day. A minstrel dressed as a jester took charge and played to the camera. Another troupe member whispered in Alan and Ellie’s ear. “We hoped we might attract some attention. We plan for this. Free publicity for the upcoming summer fairs.”

“Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, dogs and cats, and general lovers of the human race, may I introduce a troupe of wandering minstrels. Please call me Ajax. For your delight, meet and applaud for Ambrose, Millicent, Margaret, and Amroth and Nimrodel the dancing elves from Middle-earth.”

He pointed to Ellie and Allan. Amused and understanding their cue, they took a bow.

“For our first tune, we will enchant and amuse you with an ancient mystic jig handed down by a band of mischievous leprechauns.”

Ajax winked, “Just as we did before, kids.”

The heavens opened and a splash of music descended to earth. Voices sang. Bodies frolicked. An exhilarated crowd of adults, children, and pets rocked the park. Spectators in cars clogged traffic and a police car arrived. The officers, initially taken in by the revelry, but doing their job, shut down the camera and the crowd thinned.

Afterwards the curious troupe gathered around Elle and Allan and presented a cash-stuffed cigar box. “Wow guys, the crowd loved you. I’m Ajax the talking head for our company and these are my friends. Meet Ambrose, Millicent, and Margaret.”

Each member bowed and rendered a melodic hello as if singing a tune. All dressed colorfully in hippie or a medieval garb. Age wise, the ensemble appeared in their late twenties or early thirties, too young for actual leftover hippies.

“Thank you for such a lovely introduction. I am Ellie, and this is Allan.”

Allan shook the cigar box. “I think some of this money should go to you.”

“Not at all! You earned it. Young, entertaining, and charming you are. How is it you come to your craft? What do you do with yourselves? Are you locals or college students?”

“We are students. A brother and sister on the road to Colorado temporarily stranded when I broke my ankle. We were planning to trek and hitch-hike the countryside to the university in Boulder, our summer adventure.”

Ellie waved her flute. “I’m a music major.”

Allan pointed to his head. “And I prefer math.”

“Are you two twins?”

Ellie said, “People ask that a lot, we are.”

Ajax said, “Please excuse us kids. My cohorts and I need to talk. We’ll be right back.”

After a few minutes of conference, Ajax and Margaret sauntered over to the tuneful duo relaxing against a tree and counting their cigar box bonanza.

“Have you ever thought about joining a circus?”

Ellie and Allan tossed their heads in laughter.

Margaret spoke, “We are not a circus, but a Renaissance Troupe. Join our ensemble and ride for adventure. We work festivals in Nebraska and Colorado.”

Allan nodded at Ellie. “They go west to Colorado, how convenient.”

Ajax extended his finger. “Check-out the bus across the street.”

He directed their attention to a psychedelic painted old school bus, 1967 vintage.

“Our home for summer travel escapades, there’s room for two more. Besides the tips we pick up with our music and theatrics, we also sell a variety of trinkets, t-shirts, disks and handcrafted musical instruments. We make our money off 1960’s nostalgia. Come on board as partners with pay, chores, and fun.”

Ellie and Allan boarded the waiting bus at the apartment. Bongo and Tonto waved goodbye. “Hey dudes, enjoy the circus!”

The bus, with the runaways aboard, rolled to the Nebraska Renaissance Fair, July 4th weekend, outside Omaha in a town called Papillion.

During the bus trip, Ellie and Allan rehearsed tunes and skits for the program. The troupe arrived a week early and toured the greater metropolitan area working downtown parks and local venues. Fitted with costumes, Allan donned a mustache and medieval type garb; Ellie dressed as a damsel of admirable beauty. Since Allan and Ellie wore theatrical make-up, their true ages were never apparent. Their well-kept secret remained. Allan attracted an assortment of teens and women. Ellie danced and sang with the elegance of an angel and tickled the fancy of boy or man. Allan and Ellie marveled at their alter egos performing on a local news clip. Amroth and Nimrodel poised for pictures and signed autographs.

Ajax bragged, “We are a vanishing lot. We perform live and do it all. Musician, dancer, actor, storyteller, juggler, magician, and jokester. How many ways can we make you laugh? Madame-Sir, shall we dance and sing?”

For Ellie and Allan, this live action thrill proved therapeutic by stirring their emotions and intensifying their senses. From the crowds they entertained, their young intellects observed, compared, and contrasted. Every day a fantasy, an ongoing escapade into the surreal – best of times and the best of times.

When the tour arrived at the Renaissance Fair in Larkspur, Colorado, Ellie and Allan had matured into performing veterans who played the abundant attention as actors working an audience.

One night, the troupe sat around the customary campfire where everyone wound down.

After the usual gab, Ajax said, “Ellie, Allan, it’s been a fine summer. The season is ending. This was the best tour in a string of years. We attribute this to what you both brought to the campfire and the ensemble. For your efforts, you’ll get a hefty sum when we cut your share of the profits. You wanted to go to school in Boulder, but it’s too late to register for classes.”

Allan said, “It’s okay. A paycheck helps out.”

Millicent said, “We know little about you guys – nothing…”

Margaret interrupted, “And unless we’re sure you’re going to be okay, we’ll dread cutting you loose. Come fall, we park the bus at our farm outside Rocky Ford, Colorado. That’s our regular home and where we grew up. Our great grandpa owned the farm and passed the land down to us. Ambrose and Millicent are kin.”

“Yeah, we live there too.”

Ajax asked, “Would you care to winter at the family farm until you get a plan or place to stay? There’s lots of space in a big old funky farmhouse. It’s okay if you want to take off on your own. We’d hope you join us for another summer tour. Your dancing and singing could pay for college tuition.”

Ambrose added, “Colorado State is in Pueblo about an hour’s drive from Rocky Ford.”

With similar minds and a nod between them and they simultaneously said, “Yes.”

“You’ll have to learn our real names. My summer name is Millicent, my real name is Mildred, but we call me Millie.”

“My real name is Andrew, not Ambrose, but we call me Andy.”

Margaret said, “I’m Maggie and Ajax’s real name is Theodore, but we still call him Ajax.”

The season over, the troupe steered home to Rocky Ford. Allan and Ellie occupied their comfy spot in the back of the bus.

The old bus, lacking the horsepower of hurried tractor-trailers, lumbered down the highway. Annoyed impatient truckers rushed past the hippie painted vehicle. A pair of diesel machines jockeyed for position. One hauler raced to overtake his slower teamster but ran short of pavement to pass. In a panic to break, the tractor rear-ended the bus and knocked the clunker off the roadway. The back end split open. Luggage spilled everywhere as the helpless transport rolled down an embankment.

Ajax, Maggie, Andy, and Millie staggered out the front end of the bus. Dazed and confused, hysteria directed them to the compacted rear half.

All were weeping and screaming, “Where’s Allan and Ellie?”

No one answered. They remained trapped in the twisted wreckage. The walking survivors were loaded into ambulances as the emergency workers converged on the pile of debris.

 

Chapter 16 – Reality Swap

Cash flow problems complicated my winter. Disability payments never cover bills. Phone, Internet, TV gone. Electricity remains. No furnace, the bastards removed my propane tank for non-payment. I keep warm with beetle kill, but I must go into the forest, to drop, cut, drag, carry and splint before I can burn. Who lumberjacks in dead winter? An unprepared lazy dumbass.

A global warming event changed the typical February weather. The snow pack thinned and the run-off muddied roads. A few foot trails opened early. The blue sunny skies and the thaw made for sloppy, but pleasant climbing and hiking in the high country.

Cody and I crossed over to National Forest Property only to meet a waiting Lucy, now part of the daily romp in the mountains. The peculiar missing old man remained a mystery.

We hiked a familiar route until Lucy veered off.

“Lucy, where are you going?”

“No, Cody you stay here. You stay.” He obeyed, but wanted to bolt. In his younger days, a scent and he’d be gone for hours. To my dismay, the allure of romance and a feisty female was too much for Cody to ignore and he gamboled away.

“Cody Boy, come back!” My best friend left me for a canine temptress.

I chased the dogs off trail through the trees across rocky terrain. Once catching up, I relinquished the lead to the dogs who seemed to be in charge. We followed Lucy, who led us across the tundra and into a remote sub-alpine forest on a north-facing slope. Little sunlight permeated through the canopy of dense trees. The cool, dark, damp, and wet topography was steep and difficult to climb. I saw no signs of mines or logging, nor did the area have any picnic appeal. Few hikers or old timers had walked this ground.

“Lucy girl, where we go’in?”

Cody glanced back as “Don’t know myself.”

We emerged at a rock cliff rising several hundred feet. Stunted and wind-stripped trees populated the base of the summit. A steep slope formed a stable, but precarious ledge large enough for a campsite or a hideout for outlaws. The cut of the terrain hid the remote spot. Red and white quartz spiked the rock face. I faced a fissure or crack in the mountain. Underfoot, yellow speckled mud soiled my boots. Wow-oh-wow!

The next day I returned with plastic sandwich bags, a pan, and a spade. No Lucy. Cody and I looked and waited. Her absence removed the prior day’s excitement. We took off wondering if Lucy and the gold truly existed. This is real… This happened… I remember! I got scared. If it did not happen, I could be getting sick again.

It really-really did! The sandwich bags filled with gold dust and nuggets solved many immediate problems. A hike up the mountain, a jaunt to the pawnshop with a baggie full of gold and my bills are paid and forgotten. Follow the crack to the gold.

A trip to Moonshine Liquors, Green Grass Herbals, and the frozen food section makes me a happy man and so goes Cody eating beef jerky. I deserve satellite TV and a working furnace. I will shower, shave, dress-up in my cowboy shirt with the pearl buttons, and buy drinks for pretty ladies at the Vintage Moose Saloon. Cody and I will have our teeth cleaned. How sweet is that? I shall indulge and enjoy life – drink, smoke, eat, sleep, TV.

I kicked back. Cody missed the long hikes, but we did little ones.

The fingers thing is still odd. One day a shoebox with photographs fell off a junk-cluttered shelf. The existing pictures of my life spilled over the floor. I picked up and looked at a long forgotten photo of me as a child wearing a cowboy hat and sitting in a miniature chair with my hands on my lap.

Lately, I’ve had all my fingers on both hands – how nice, And I must say so did my cowboy picture. I thumb tacked the pic to the wall. A bad day, and then a spell of bad days, had me disabled-maimed again – left or right hands. Each time I flipped, I checked the photograph, which always matched my missing fingers.

Cody and I finally got out for a hearty hike and arrived at the old post office. The dilapidated structure wreaked a foul odor.

“Stay Cody. Stinks like a dead animal.”

I approached to investigate. The wind kicked up. A loud greeting startled my approach.

“Welcome, thank you for coming,” rang the same stupid salutation from the Quantum Monk. Lucy and Cody took off for a romp. I wanted to be friendly, after all this man and his dog were responsible for my good fortunate. The air now smelled green.

“Hello, Sir or Mister Quantum Monk… your name, title, or description if I remember correctly. You and Lucy are back.”

“Or you and Cody are back. Reality is in the eye of the beholder.”

Some casual chat might be in order. I stood silent for a moment and blurted, “Thanks for the gold your dog found. It helped out a lot.”

He stepped too close and stared into my eyes and said, “Will you write? Ellie and Allan are in trouble.”

“How do you know about book? Help Allan and Ellie, you say. This is too weird – you and my book. I don’t get the connection. What the hell is happening?”

“We are entangled.”

“That makes a lot fucking sense!”

Lucy came to the monk’s side. “We are off to another world.” He tipped his hood goodbye. “You take care of reality.”

“Wait a minute. Entangled? What does that mean?”

Into a clump of trees, he walked.

His sudden departure took me by surprise. I screamed. He owed me more. “Stop. Wait! Don’t you leave me. Hey old fart!”

Dematerialized. Disappeared. Abandoned by a Quantum Monk.

About three in the morning, I woke to a panic attack. Over-whelming fear caused me to clutch Cody and hold on. I lit a fire, made a pot of coffee, and sat down at the laptop to write. Am I being watched?

The first gold came easy. I scrapped it off the ground. Now digging and tunneling into the rock face became necessary. A one-man and dog operation – dig with pickaxe and shovel, like the first miners. I wanted more gold and money, but did not need millions. Thousands or hundreds would suit my needs. The secret of an eccentric recluse.

After some effort, I dug out the floor of the crevice and crawled in on my belly. The hole became a cave filled with gold-bearing debris. I planned to pack out the valuable ore to my back yard, crush the rubble, and wash out the yellow mineral.

Cody barked and interrupted my dig. I bellied backwards out of the crevasse only to find the missing cleric grinning down at me. Cody and Lucy wagged tails.

I said, “Thank you for coming. This is a surprise.”

The Quantum Monk responded, “I was passing through your world so I stopped for a visit.”

I sat up, leaned against the rock wall. This is real – not dreaming.

“Alright QT, we have unfinished business Who the hell are you? What’s going on! I’m used to some bizarre crap, but you and your dog are scaring me. You come. You go. You’re in my dream. Your dog finds a gold mine? You’re making me crazy old man!”

“Fear not. Your sanity is intact. You are a popper and I am here to help.”

He sat on the ground and crossed his legs.

“Popper?” I expected more.

“You travel between parallel worlds without control or choice. Without your knowledge, you slip between insignificant parallel worlds. You are a popper because you lack control. When it happens the change you experience in your life is minimal, at least in the short term – like your fingers, the disappearing items, or all those peculiar occurrences driving you crazy your entire life.”

“I am a popper.”

Yes, most poppers wind up in mental or penal institutions because the condition compromises their ability to cope with reality and succeed in normal life.

“Well, that explains my life,” I quipped, “and you’re here to help.”

“Informing you of this unusual aspect of yourself must assist.”

“And who are you?”

“A traveler who moves between parallel worlds by choice. We are the Quantum Monks. I started as a popper and evolved.”

I cried, “You’re making me nuts. This kinda stuff doesn’t happen. I’m so fucked-up already. Why is this happening? Is this real?”

“Understand when your fingers or familiar objects disappear or reappear, you are moving in between an infinite number of similar but different parallel universes. Regrettably, you have no control and cannot choose your reality. You must learn.”

“So how am I gonna learn? Go to monk school.”

“Your mission is to observe and write about Allan and Ellie. Stay humble and the truth will reveal itself.”

“Why the gold in the mountain?”

“Business expenses.”

I rose to my feet and brushed the dirt off my knees. When I looked up QT and Lucy were gone.

A few days later, my warping reality continued to confuse. I sat with my back to door writing on the laptop. The locked front door unexpectedly opened. Someone entered my domain. The intrusion surprised Cody.

“Hello, don’t shoot. Quantum Monk is here.”

I swiveled around on my desk chair. “What the hell man, can’t you knock!”

Though startled, I feigned the anger. The spooky monk would not leave until he answered all questions.

He approached. “Okay, let’s go. You and Cody, out of the house – the door please. Leave right now.”

“What is going on?”

The determined but polite monk pointed to the door. “Please, we need to leave.”

“My shoes aren’t on.”

“Let us put on your shoes and we will go. Do you need help?”

Two dogs, QT, and I scampered into the forest and ascended the hillside above the house. After a frenzied climb and a safe view from the trees, the Monk stopped and turned to my house.

Catching my breath, I asked, “Tell me what’s happening!”

The monk was not looking at me when he said, “They want to kill you.”

“Say again…”

He pointed. “Look above your house in the sky.”

“I see nothing.”

“The subtle spherical distortions above your house – like floating hovering balls – almost invisible on purpose, camouflage.”

“I do. What is it?”

“Distortions in the time-space continuum. Alien travelers making entry into our universe using wormhole technology. Watch they’re landing.”

Each atmospheric aberration flared and descended. The spheres or globes dimmed as they settled into the trees around my house and no trace.

“Oh shit, did I see flying saucers?”

“Intergalactic dimensional transports… Wormhole technology. Watch… There they are. Your standard humanoid alien – two arms with fingers, two legs, one head, at least five senses.”

Darkly clad individuals with helmets and body gear approached the cabin on foot. The trespassers advanced on the property as if scouting a position and entered the house.

“They went inside to kill you, but you’re here with me.”

“Oh thanks, I got aliens killers. Do I call a cop? Am I dreaming? And why would ET want to kill me?”

“You are entangled with Allan and Ellie. Kill you, and they are affected.”

“What the hell does that mean? I don’t understand. The book is a product of my imagination. I make it up, Dude. Something I see in my head.”

“Exactly, that is the problem. You are the observer. Watch now, they will blow up and incinerate your house.”

“What! No man! Why?”

“You are still alive. They will make life difficult to thwart the completion of the book until you’re dead. We’re lucky I got you out. We need to pop you to a different parallel world and get them off your track. You need more time.”

“Time for what?”

“More time to finish the book.”

The raiding party retreated. From out of the treetops, the alien transports zapped into the sky and disappeared. My house exploded into a fireball like a little atom bomb. Trees caught fire.

“I have no house!”

“We will tuck you away somewhere in different but similar parallel world. Your alien executioners will have to search an infinite number of universes to locate you, a long, tedious task. Time favors positive outcomes.”

“So do I get my own fireball and fly off to another world?”

I poked the monk man to make my point. A zap or electric shock buckled my knees.

“Argh, what was that!”

“You should ask before you touch.”

Was he real like me?

“I must go and leave you to your own devices. I lack power in the physical world of your reality.”

“Hey Monkman, help me out. Get me out of this mess!”

“That I can do. Take a hike to the old post office. On your return, you and Cody will pop to a similar but slightly different parallel universe. Remember Grasshopper, reality is where your conscious mind resides. Goodbye.”

The crazy monk and Lucy ran off in a cloud of dust – pissing me off.

Grasshopper? A dumb Kung Fu joke from an old 1960’s television show. David Carradine is dead.

“Cody, let’s go Buddy.”

Several hours passed. I trusted the old man and waited to be popped, but nothing happened. Wow, there was my cabin. Everything seemed normal except the place was too clean and too tidy. In the spring after mud season, I did a heavy duty cleaning to rid the house of winter stench, but this measure of housekeeping exceeded my typical efforts.

Fresh fruits and vegetables filled the refrigerator. Fresh towels and wash clothes hung in the bathroom. Skin moisturizer sat on the counter top. Cooking stuff littered the kitchen. A curious Cody sniffed the premises. Had I become a new man – a very neat man with soft skin who cooked a lot?

Time for a reality check, I turned on the computer and brought up the book manuscript. The story ended where I remember leaving off. I reasoned, if the book existed in this reality so did the old man. I could use an explanation. What might my email tell me?

Cody barked and the door opened.

“I’m home lover.”

I spun on my desk chair to the unexpected greeting.

A beautiful woman walked in the house with a bag of groceries. She set the bag on the table, pulled out a bottle of wine, and smiled at me.

Dream or reality, I did not understand, but smiled. The pleasure of female company eluded me for many years. This moment would not be wasted.

The natural beauty settled in my lap and placed her arms around my neck. She fit perfectly. Her nametag read Dr. Jody Sparks, St. Joseph Hospital. Why would an attractive female doctor take interest in me? The vanilla scented doctor rubbed her cheek against my neck and exhaled her warm breath in my ear causing me to quiver and moan. The affectionate health care provider knew such nuzzling drove me crazy.

Oh, yes, a respite from my stinking reality.

Thanks QT!

 

Chapter 17 – Wentworth and Anjawon

A plane landed at O’Hare International Airport. A middle-aged man and his younger partner both dressed in dark conservative suits walked up to the rental agency.

“Hello, we are here to pick up a car reserved in our names or employer.”

“Yes, sir, welcome to the Windy City, your name and company, please.”

“David Wentworth.”

Marshall Wentworth was a big boned hefty veteran law officer and a retired Marine who worked on special assignments. His extensive experience in warrants, prisoner transport, and fugitive apprehension taught him how to manipulate the law in his favor. He was exceedingly competent due to his analytical skills and lack of emotion. First and last impressions rendered the parody of a crusty enforcer. His cigarette habit did little for his complexion or the texture of his voice.

Dr. Anjawon Brewer, a graduate of Stanford Medical School, worked as a medical investigator for the federal government. Using his bootstraps, a keen intellect, and ball handling skills, he removed himself, siblings, and mother from a crime-ridden Los Angeles neighborhood.

“Yes, your car is waiting gentlemen.”

Records brought the agents to a typical Chicago brownstone three flat in a neighborhood where you double bolted doors and walked the dog before the streets darkened. The doorbell busted out, the investigators climbed to the third floor and knocked.

Donna barked, “Who is it?”

“U.S. Department of Health, I’d like to talk to you concerning your daughter.”

Behind the door, they heard, “About time someone.” She yanked open the door after fussing with dead bolts. Out skulked a disheveled Donna.

“You found her? She sick, or something?”

Both men held up badges with photo ID. Wentworth talked. Brewer listened.

“I am Marshal Wentworth and this is Dr. Brewer. I presume you are her mother Ms…”

“Azeri, my last name, Ellie goes by Rios.”

“Mrs. Azeri, we seek information regarding Ellie and hoped you might assist us. May we come in and talk?”

“Naw, the place is a mess. I’ve been sick.”

She pulled her collar up as if she was chilled.

“Do you know where she is?”

Donna tossed her unkempt hair off face. “The girl was in Colorado. I got a letter from Social Services.”

“True, we confirmed.”

Donna wiped her nose. “But she ran off with a boyfriend. Could be anywhere now.”

“Has she contacted you?”

“No, like she would. Did you try my mother outside Davenport? I don’t have a good number and address.”

“I understand. You are her biological mother?”

She hacked, “Ya.”

“Her biological father, is he here?”

“No.”

“Might you know where he is?”

“That low life disappeared right after her birth. Not that he was around much before then. Never seen him since.”

Brewer took notes and marked a clipboard as the conversation progressed.

“Ms. Azeri, we are federal investigators and have made a special trip to interview you in person. We were hoping you would allow us to take a blood sample from you.”

“Blood sample, what the heck for? I ain’t sick.”

“Ms. Azeri, may we collect a blood sample and a DNA swab from your mouth to determine Ellie’s blood type for our database, important for our agency and records.”

Donna, suspicious of authority figures, balked. “Show me your identification and badge again.”

Once more, they displayed their identities and the cover sheet from Ellie’s file but she became agitated. A hesitant Donna retreated into the entryway.

“I don’t think so misters. You want anything from me get a warrant and a real cop.”

Donna slammed the door.

Ellie’s mother Donna was an unrelenting and impatient woman. A week later, Donna and Hank, wife and husband now, sat talking in the vestibule of a Chicago Police Station.

“Hank, the nerve of that girl running off on me. The hours I spent with the disability paperwork. We could’ve had money coming in till her eighteenth birthday, maybe longer. She’ll get herself knocked up and become a welfare mother. Then she’ll need a place to stay, come back crawling.”

A bent-over Hank straightened his spine. “Donna, I don’t understand your sudden concern. Several months went by before you even cared. You discover a way to collect money off the kid and now if she’s a welfare mom, you got another angle to make a buck.”

“Shut up Hank! You’re not her father. She’s my business. You shouldn’t be talk’in about money since you lost your job. I should get pregnant and go on welfare.”

The public address system sounded, “Hank and Donna Azeri come to office 212, please.”

“Hello, I’m Detective Bruckner with our missing person’s division. I understand you have a missing teenager to report.”

“Ya, I want to file a missing child report on my daughter so you can find her,” said Donna.

“Mrs. Azeri, on the paperwork you filled out, you state she received medical care at a hospital Colorado.”

“Ya,” Donna said.

“You report she ran away with her teenage boyfriend. You also wrote when she ran away the first time, she left a note about going to live with your mother.”

An irritable Donna snapped, “What’s your point?”

“I am sorry if I sound callous. She is a minor, but considering her age and her presence in Colorado, she is technically not missing, but a runaway. Her case does not command the same resources allotted to a younger child who disappears. Her whereabouts in another state brings up matters of jurisdiction.”

“What? Are you kidding me?”

“Mrs. Azeri, I apologize for these circumstances. We will keep this report in a file until your daughter’s eighteenth birthday. You do have the option of using a private investigator. If you move to Colorado, you can use local authorities. Quite honestly, your daughter might be in a different state by now.”

“She could be dead, what da hell do you care,” yelled Donna, who always got the last word.

Back at the three flat, Hank endured a day of Donna complaining how the police department sucked. Donna thrashed about the apartment in a stupor with her favorite beverage. Hank watched championship wrestling on TV. A few drinks latter, Donna crashed on the bed and Hank joined her later in the evening.

Sometime in the early morning hours, Donna woke up blinded by a glaring bright light. A dark assailant snatched her off the mattress and deposited her stomach side up on the kitchen table. Her arms and legs paralyzed, the creature pinned her torso down. Her head yoked, something went inside through her eyes searching-reading her brain for Ellie’s whereabouts. In a callous manner, it ripped her mind for information.

In the morning, Hank woke and spotted Donna’s body sprawled on the table passed out. He remembered her coming to bed. He got up, tottered over to his comatose sweetheart, and turned her head upward to check for breathing. Her eyes opened. She spit out a glob of mucus and coughed.

She mumbled in a raspy voice. “Hank, you jackass, what are you doing?”

“I’m checking. Are you alive? Guess so.”

“Did you see it? Did it get you too?”

“You’re drunk or hung over, Donna.”

“Hank, I tell ya. It got me. It wants Ellie.”

The federal agents flew into Denver and drove to Rocky Ford to continue their investigation. Andy, Millie, Ajax, and Andy sat at their supper table. A barking dog and the sound of a vehicle caused them to peak out the window.

“We got visitors.” Andy got up to greet the men.

“Hello. I’m Marshal Wentworth and this is Dr. Brewer from the Department of Health and Human Services seeking the Hastings and Bennet – Ajax, Maggie, Andy, and Millie. The sheriff directed us to this location. We seek information about Ellie Rios and Allan Doe.”

No handshakes offered from either side.

The surprised four exchanged glances “Please come in and join us. We finished our meal now serving dessert. Might you care for homemade apple pie, still hot from the oven?”

Brewer whiffed. “Oh my, smells good.”

Wentworth, too professional for hospitality, snubbed the invitation. “No, thank you.”

Maggie cleared dishes while Andy carried two chairs to the table.

Ajax asked, “You bring us news about Ellie and Allan?” He tried to sound pleasant. “We were taken out of the loop regarding their well-being.”

The government officials recognized his insinuation.

“I acknowledge the toll upon your family. Realize we do not represent the county courts or social services, but work out of Washington, specifically with Healthcare Research and Quality.”

Andy inquired, “Why does Ellie and Allan interest you?”

“Their blood type instigated an inquiry.”

“Ah, yes,” Millie remarked, “at the hospital a Dr. Castro, mentioned rare blood for both. Interesting coincidence.”

Wentworth continued. “Consequently, whenever the news of a different or special blood group is reported, we take an interest. Information we would like in our database. We require a reserve in our blood banks to assist others who share the category. In the name of quality health care and public health, we would like to meet with them. Our records indicate they disappeared or ran off. Do you possess knowledge of their whereabouts?”

Ajax spoke, “You are wasting your time with us. Under penalty of law, we were ordered no contact with Ellie and Allan. They lived with us in a loving home and that mattered nothing to the courts.”

Wentworth realized, though not astonished, he hit a raw nerve. “I apologize for your anguish. My job required me to ask.”

“Rumor is they hit the road again, which means a lot of things considering their talents.”

“Their talents?”

“Allan and Ellie are survivors, imaginative and smart.”

“We thank you for your time.”

“You are welcome. If you want help from us, someone must lift the court order.”

“Good bye, here is my card.”

The stir of unresolved emotions brought nightmares to the distraught sleeping musicians. Uninvited ill-mannered nocturnal callers intruded into their sleeping brains to seek the whereabouts of Allan and Ellie.

The next morning at breakfast, the unnerved couples gathered to discuss the previous night. Concluding a mutual similar experience, the spooked group questioned the perplexing incident. Maggie was so distressed she talked in tears.

“It’s eerie, not natural.”

“Maybe it can happen,” Andy guessed, “though more than a dream like something was in the bed and my head.”

Ajax tried to rationalize. “All right, a fluke or a strange event that occurs and can’t be explained… A psycho phenomenon…”

Millie interrupted, “I’m damn scared for all of us because I don’t understand what’s happening. Those feds and the blood stuff freaks me out!”

 

Chapter 18 – Becoming

At a hospital in Pueblo, Colorado, Ajax, Maggie, Andy, and Millie collected their wits. Each exited the examination room with bumps and scrapes.

Tear-swollen eyes and hearts afraid, the once merry minstrels rested in a recovery area nursing the injuries and waited several agonizing hours for information about Ellie and Allan.

A Doctor Castro entered and reported. “They sustained head concussions. Miraculously, they suffered no other injuries except for battered, scratched, and bruised bodies. They will ache and be sore. They are sedated and resting. They’re young – full recovery.”

Hearing the optimistic news, the four hugged and released a sigh of relief. The doctor gave them a moment to settle their emotions.

“Something of a peculiar nature I’d like to mention.”

“Yes, doctor.”

“Ellie and Allan tested for an unidentified blood category. Based on our lab results, such blood exists nowhere. In addition, the lab reported an unusual protein or marker in their blood. Are they related family wise?”

“Yes, brother and sister, twins.”

The doctor paged through the forms on his clipboard. “Of course, the lab might have made a mistake in the panic. Happens. Fortunately, it did not matter.”

“Can we talk to them?”

“Let’s wait till tomorrow. They’ll be discharged by noon if their condition does not change. They may experience memory loss. You four should go home and rest. You must recuperate as well. Thank you.”

Someone the size of a football player wearing tattered coveralls with long hair strolled into the room.

“Here’s our ride, hi Sampson.”

The following day, Ajax, driving a rusting pickup, transported Ellie and Allan to a simple two-story farmhouse. The noisy truck muffler alerted Andy, Millie, and Maggie, who hugged and welcomed the couple.

“Welcome to your new home.”

Several outbuildings scattered the farm, and, a barn and corral with a few horses. A tire on a rope hung from a dead tree. In the lands around the property, farmhands worked the fields.

Allan looked in to the fields. “What’s going on?”

Maggie boasted, “Harvest time. The best watermelons and cantaloupes in the country. What we do at Rocky Ford.”

“You grow melons?” Ellie asked.

“Not anymore. We lease the family land to neighbors.” She pointed to distant house. “Cousin Sam lives on the far side of the property.”

Andy helped with the baggage.

“Our generation didn’t care to farm. We rent out the acreage to pay the bills so we can play during the summers.”

Once inside, an eclectic assortment of furniture filled the dwelling, as well as, a collection of musical instruments.

“You two can use the spare room. Maggie directed the sore and ailing pair down a hallway to a king size antique bronze bed facing a south window.”

“We collected your stuff from the wreck and put your belongings in the corner. On the bureau is an envelope with your summer paycheck. We need to hang a door in this room; Andy found one. Rest and sleep, we’ll bring you your meds and meals. Bye.” She smiled and left.

Allan cracked the window for some air. “A sunny window brings back memories.”

“Allan, a bed with fine linen and fluffy pillows.”

He mused, “I love your soft silky skin against mine.”

“I’m glad our stuff is here.”

“What last name and age did you give the hospital?”

She said, “Rios and eighteen.”

“Me too.”

“Did you notice the hospital finger-printed us? That might be a problem.”

Allan and Ellie spent the day in bed recuperating, zonked on painkillers, and sleeping.

“Knock-knock,” sang Maggie and Millie, who were toting trays.

“Time to put food in your bodies and take your meds.”

Ellie lay snuggled next to Allan under the covers and both without clothes or pajamas. At first, the sight did not surprise Maggie and Millie, but then remember the two were brother and sister.

Allan and Ellie stirred, wiped their eyes, and eventually sat up. “Oh thank you,” said Ellie.

The women set the trays on their laps.

Millie had to ask, “Are you guys into kinky stuff?”

Allan, realizing their nakedness and the potential loss of their alibi said, “Don’t be alarmed. Ellie and I grew up poor with one parent and a working mom. We grew up sharing the same room and bed, even the crib, so the two of us are close. We’re twins ya know.”

“Well, well, well, very close twins indeed,” said Millie “could be kinky.” The women left with mumbles and giggles following in their wake.

“Allan, we may have milked this brother-sister twin thing too far.”

The next morning jerked Ellie from sleep. Outdoor, noise brought her to the window to see a police car where a uniformed officer and a suit were talking. “Allan, wake up, check this out.”

The man in a suit knocked on the front door. “Hello, I’m Detective Frank Wilcox, sorry for the inconvenience. I’m seeking information and the whereabouts of Allan and Eleanor Rios. May we talk?”

“Sure detective. We just finished breakfast. Might you care for a cup of coffee?”

“No, thank you. Are they here at this residence?”

“Why yes, they’re still asleep.”

“Are you the parents, guardians, or relatives?”

Ajax said, “No, we’re friends. They’re staying with us right now.”

The detective checked his clipboard and said, “We have a conflict in the identities of Allan and Ellie Rios. Finger printing identifies them as two unrelated and under-age teenagers both reported missing. A fifteen-year-old Eleanor Rios from Chicago and a sixteen-year-old Allan Doe from New York. They’re run-a-ways.”

“What!”Maggie said, “There not brother and sister and twins.”

Ajax explained, “We didn’t know that. They didn’t tell us. We met them in Iowa last spring and brought them to Colorado.”

“I need to see and talk to them.”

“I’ll get them,” Andy yelled.

Wilcox’s mind focused elsewhere. “Are two unrelated minors, a male and female, sharing a bedroom in your house?”

“Yes… Kinda.”

Millie tried to justify the situation. “Our home is a wholesome and healthy environment. Bennet and Hastings are our family names, well-respected in Rocky Ford.”

Wilcox needed more info. “The same two teens you picked up out of state and transported across state lines?”

“Yes,” said Andy considering something awful was about to hit the fan.

“Do they attend school?”

“No.”

Andy ran back. “They’re gone. All their stuff too!”

Wilcox thought for a moment. “Excuse me. I must make a call.”

The detective returned with an officer to say. “Remain silent and listen. The following charges are pending against you four: kidnapping, crossing state lines, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and failing to report an incident or contact authorities. You are under arrest.”

Backpacks and road gear in hand, Allan and Ellie rushed out the back door.

The fleeing fugitives had a start on the police as they scurried through the fields.

“We need to get out of sight and this area.”

“Allan, my legs are too sore to run anymore.”

“Give me your pack. Let’s walk to that small house.”

A dog announced their arrival bringing out big boy Sampson who confronted the fleeing couple.

“Good morning, I’m Allan and this is Ellie. Sorry for the bother. We’re staying with the Bennet and Hastings.”

“Yes, you are,” spoke a big loud voice. “I’m Cousin Sam. I picked them up at the hospital. Heard the whole story. What do you want?”

“Ajax suggested you might want to pick up some extra cash for a ride in to town. We just found out this is the last day to register for classes at the university. We’re bruised and sore, but we need to get into Pueblo. The others need to rest up from the accident. We don’t want to be a bother. If you’re busy that’s okay, we’re hitch-hike in.”

“No problem if you got $85.00 to fill up the tank and buy me lunch at Burger Kong.”

“A done deal if you take us to the CSU campus.”

“I can do that,” said Sam

Dropped off on school grounds by early afternoon, Ellie and Allan sat in the student cafeteria eating lunch and checking housing on the tablet.

Ellie said, “We move around a lot.”

“We do.” said Allan, “but we’re run-aways – fugitives for the next few years. Does that bother you?”

“I don’t think so, we always seem to find a nice place to sleep, and we eat well.”

“That we do Ellie and that’s not an accident. That’s good planning on my part. I don’t make stupid mistakes.”

Ellie said, “I read some place there are no accidents.”

Allan said, “It was no accident my online Russian chess buddie Petra, a grad student and hacker in Moscow set me up with a Russian birth certificate. I was born in Moscow to American diplomats and I’m twenty-two years old – that’s what my Citibank Credit Card believes and I’m walking around with a five-thousand-dollar credit limit – for emergency food and shelter. We can hit the road whenever we want without concern.”

“We’ve had a lot of emergencies.”

“Ya Ellie, but we got this check from our summer job. We don’t possess the proper identification to cash a check that big. We might persuade a landlord to take it for rent and give us the balance.”

“Allan, this looks like nice a nice hideout, one block from campus.”

Life began anew and again for the runaway couple in a small room in a city apartment in a tacky neighbor with two roommates. Serious students Willy and Jimbo were tidy but snarky business majors who envisioned, at least for now, becoming Colorado pot or beer barons.

The first night in the apartment, tucked in their bags and digesting the recent calamitous events Ellie asked, “Now what?”

“Ellie, we’re doing pretty good. Don’t you think? Willy and Jimbo are gone all day at school. We get the place to ourselves. Satellite TV, Internet, a ton of video games, and some money. Maybe we should kick back hide-out for a while. We did reach Colorado… The both of us together.”

Ellie and Allan discovered a talent for playing poker and blackjack. The ability surfaced during a Saturday night party and a spontaneous poker game at the apartment. Allan, playing sober, understanding probability, card counting, and applying his eidetic talents was cleaning up the table.

“Sorry guys,” Allan announced, “I gotta go pee and stretch out my spine.”

“Naw… Hurry up,” groaned the players at the table. Everyone took a swig of beer.

When Allan returned there sat Ellie at the table in his seat wearing a baseball hat and hanging a cigarette out of her month. The table and partygoers were yelling and going crazy. “Hey Allan, your sister just lost a bunch of money. Let her play some more!”

“Let Ellie play. Let Ellie play,” chanted the drunken crowd.

A confident grinning Ellie looked at a wide-eyed open-mouthed Allan and winked. She folded early the next two hands. Afterwards she started to raise the stakes with large bets and began calling bluffs. She won a succession of pots. The last and largest with a pair of eights that wowed, awed, and entertained the crowd who went nuts.

As Ellie was collecting her paper winnings she said, “Thank you gentlemen, we must do this again.” She pushed her coin back into the table and said “Too heavy to carry.” She then folded her money, unbuttoned the top button of her blouse, stuck the cash in her bra, got up and left.

“Ellie, Ellie, Ellie,” the crowd shouted as she made an exit to their bedroom with Allan in close tow.

Shutting the door, Allan embraced the poker queen and the two jumped around in laughter.

“Damn you’re so-so good! You’re such the actor, a hustler. I knew what you were doing. You read their minds. People don’t do things like that. Your like one in a million trillion. You’re rare Ellie, exceptional.”

“Allan, I’m getting much better at it. It works when I’m happy and not stressed out. What about what you did. Are you special?”

“That was all math and memory, but you have magic.”

Ellie licked his ear and whispered, “Maybe you have a magical memory.”

“I have something magical for you.”

Their new room came with an old box spring where their sleeping bags where laid out. They spent the night into the early morning hours in a semi-sleep cuddling until the noise of the party disappeared.

“Ellie you know what I’m thinking.”

“I do.”

“Ellie the world is ours to play with. We could make a living hustling the casinos. Ellie… if we can win whenever we choose, it matters not how much we loose and drop. We can move from country to country, playing the five star casinos and living off the comps… free lodging and food forever.”

“Allan, do you know what I’m thinking?”

“No.”

“It’s a great plan that won’t work until we’re twenty-one.”

“You’re right. We’ll have to lay low, hide out until our eighteenth birthdays then we’re free from the cops. Then we’ll have to wait again until our twenty-first to gamble.”

“Allan, we can do that… Or save money and buy an island or a country or help out people.”

The following day, Jimbo talked to the couple at the kitchen table. “Ellie, you received an invitation to a poker game at the Alpha Epsilon Phi Fraternity in Boulder. It’s next Saturday and you can bring Allan.”

“Do I get to play,” Allan asked.

“Oh, yeah for sure… The money in the bra thing made a big impression. Ellie, you got admirers.”

Several times a month, Willy and Jimbo, working as their agents for a cut, chauffeured the couple to fraternity poker and blackjack games at DU, CU, and CSU.

Allan and Ellie always played one chair at a time while the other observed, calculated, memorized, or read the minds of gamblers. The intriguing duo always amused the crowd.

 

 

SECRET

FROM: UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION

LABORATORY SERVICES

WASHINGTON D.C. 20535-0001

SER 009D/691587

OCTOBER 21, 2018

TO: U.S FOOD AND DRUG ADMINSTRATION

CENTER FOR BIOLOGICS EVALUATION AND RESEARCH

SILVER SPRINGS, MD 20993

ATTENTION: DOCTOR EMMETT BROCK

 

SUBJ: CONFIRMATION BLOOD LAB WORK #BCDE-567-912

Allan Doe 04-12-2001 aka Allan Rios

Finger Print Identification # we4863, New York State Social Services

SS#192-96-3160 8-28-2018

Blood Sample Collected at Penrose-St. Francis Hospital, Security-Widefield, CO

Lab Results: Unknown Human Blood Type with pou5f-1 marker

 

SUBJ: CONFIRMATION BLOOD LAB WORK #BCDE-567-913

Eleanor Rios 04-6-2002 aka Ellie Doe

Finger Print Identification # we4864, Cook County Hospital, Chicago, Ill.

SS#362-96-3160 8-28-2018

Blood Sample Collected at Penrose-St. Francis Hospital, Security-Widefield, CO

Lab Results: Unknown Human Blood Type with pou5f-1 marker

 

Copy 3 of 4 copies each of 1 page

Reproduction of this document in whole or in part is prohibited except with permission of the issuing office.

 

Chapter 19 – Dr. Jody Sparks

I discarded human companionship a long time ago – especially the attention of a caring woman. Glorious days played out in romance with Dr. Jody Sparks. Initially, not understanding how we hooked-up, I played along and followed her lead. I assembled and connected bits and pieces about our relationship.

I met Jody on the mountain. She was searching for her run-off dog, named Sparky. City folks should keep their dogs leased. Up here an ignorant dog will pick up a scent, take-off, and disappear into the forest and into the food chain. We spent the day looking, the following day as well, and then again her next days off. We became familiar in her grief.

Jody, a new emergency room doctor, worked the day shift, four twelve hour shifts. She’d arrive Wednesday evening with a scrumptious take-out dinner and leave Sunday. She shared a house with an old boyfriend whom she avoided on her days off. My house served as a convenient haven and she liked Cody. I behaved myself and became a charming person. Three days a week, I entertained Jody. We’d hike to the wilderness gold mine and collect nuggets, stream movies, fornicate, sleep, eat, talk politics, and I listened to stories of life and death in the ER.

I awoke to the scent of coffee, eggs, and sausage.

“Oh, lover…”

She always calls me lover.

“Cody and I are out for an early walk. Breakfast on the stove. I checked your grammar. See you later.”

She edits my book. Weekdays I write in my solicitude while weekends I entertain Jody. My marvelous routine. Wake. Drink coffee. Smoke a joint. Write for a while. Eat. Drink coffee. Smoke a joint. Hike with Cody. Smoke a joint. Drink coffee. Write for a while. Eat. Sleep. Wait for Jody’s visit.

Oh, let’s keep it simple. I get high, write, and play the role of a moody needy eccentric science fiction author. My luck, I am a convenient and timely turn-on to a woman.

Where the dreams, stories or visions for the book come from, I do not know – the stuff, the material arrives throughout the day to my head. And because a monk, a dog, a doctor, and ET demons are challenging my notion of reality, sometimes I wonder what part of the story am I.

Magic mushroom season, Amanita Muscaris or the Fly Agaric, is almost here. The red and white-spotted fungi grow in the timberline pine forests when the summers are hot and damp. Unfortunately, the drought summers have decimated the mushroom population. They say the fungus is poisonous. A real leftover old hippie, now dead, taught me to scrape the white spots into my tea.

Life is sweet.

 

 

CDCP Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

1600 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA 30329-4027 USA

800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636)

2018: Ebola Pig Virus Discovered at Colorado Farm

On February 2, 2018, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), notified the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the World Health Organization (WHO) of an outbreak of the newly identified Ebola Pig Virus. The index case was a pig farm 15 miles south of Burlington, Colorado. A farmer who buried several dead hogs became ill with symptoms of EPV died on February 17, 2018.

State and federal health officials are determining how many local residents and health care workers were exposed to EPV.

 

March 13, 2018

Denver, Colorado

KUSA 9News.com Bulletin

Local Doctor Dies from Ebola Pig Virus

 

An emergency room doctor, the initial medic to treat Colorado’s first Ebola Pig Virus victim, has died from complications of the disease, Doctor William Forester said today in a 9:00 AM press briefing at Saint Joseph Hospital. He did not answer questions at the hastily arranged announcement. The family of the deceased doctor requested privacy.

 

Dr. Jody Sparks fell ill two weeks ago while giving care at Saint Joseph Hospital to Jonathon Bilks a local pig farmer. The hospital’s Biocontainment Patient Care Unit is the largest in the Rocky Mountain Region specially equipped to respond to hemorrhagic diseases.

 

The Ebola pig virus, first detected in Sierra Leone, has spread worldwide in less than a year. Colorado is the first transmission of the virus from pigs to humans in the United States.

 

The outbreak has devastated pig populations in the Southern and Midwestern states. The disease typically kills 90% of those infected, but the death rate is dropping in humans because of early treatment.

 

According to the latest data from the World Health Organization, seven health workers and two doctors have been infected in the 2018 outbreak. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is launching an investigation to determine if a recall of pork food products is necessary.

 

Dr. Sparks, age 32, born in Mount Prospect, Illinois, graduated from Northwestern University Medical School and Colorado State University. She worked for the hospital’s ER for almost one year.

 

I sent an email.

 

Dear Clear Creek Animal Shelter,

By the time you read this, I will be dead. Please go to my house and take care of my Cody Dog. On the kitchen table, you will find two mason jars of gold to cover the care and keep of my friend. Please find him a good home. He deserves better.

 

I bought a big bottle of Wild Turkey. I sat at the table with a coffee cup of whiskey and a stainless steel Smith and Wesson 357 revolver. Three, four, five, six cups of hard liquor should facilitate the act.

I remember my last conversation with Jody.

“Honey,” she said, “I’ve accepted a new position.”

“Ah, more money and a new title for the good doctor Jody?”

“No not really, It’s Doctors Without Borders… a position in Sidama, Ethiopia.”

Oh, crap, no, no, no… Raced through my mind. Yes, the most excellent Doctor Jody was a goodly person. After all, she was doctor, a dedicated one, and those called to the medical profession could possess a calling to assist humanity. Might she be a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills?

She continued, “Lover, I can’t live like this forever. Thank you for being here, but our time together was a temporary escape while I incubated and synthesized something different.”

I tried to say it politely but it probably sounded self-serving. “What about me? Am I in the formula?”

Jody the healer and my playmate said, “I ride the waves. Are you prepared to be the father of my child? Will you or can you love, raise, and devote your life to that child?”

Wow, heavy punch! She left me speechless.

A smiling Jody said, “I’ve decided to catch another wave.”

I should have realized, I didn’t deserve an intelligent and beautiful professional, nor was I capable of keeping one satisfied and happy for an extended period. After all, what was I? What could a burnt-out unemployed crazy misanthrope offer? I get stoned and write stupid science fictions stories.

Jody went home a day early, and I never saw her again. Fate – take me, a stupid asshole whose fucking life is shit!

Not Jody… Not the good Doctor Jody… Take me… Take me.

I heaved the mug of liquor to my mouth and missed dumping much down my chin and neck. I’m drunk now.

I reached for the revolver, but my inebriated hands fumbled the gun.

Be careful… You want to shoot yourself in the right spot.

Something jerked me backwards, knocking my chair to the ground and banging my head against the floor. The force knocked my feet up to the underside of the table and crashed the bottle and gun to the floor.

I heard yelling. “You shit-eating coward! Get up!”

I didn’t move fast enough and he kicked me in the stomach.

“Get up, you gutless worthless, piece of crap.”

I curled on the floor. The kick snatched my breath.

“Get up!” Another kick. “Get up!” Another kick to the stomach – a boot to the groin. That hurt bad.

For a moment, the attack stopped until a yank on my leg pulled me across the floor. “Get up or I’ll drag your ass until you do!”

The front door burst open. Down the porch steps, my body was pulled-dragged with my head banging against the ground.

“No sir… You ain’t dying yet – not this easily – at least for now. Get up! Get up!”

 

Chapter 20 – Hiding Out

The happy gambling housemates sat around a coffee table eating Chinese when Willy’s phone rang.

“Hi Mom. Yeah, they’re right here with me.” He listened; his face expressed concern. “Oh… I’ll ask them and call you back.”

“Allan and Ellie, the police called her about your rent check.”

“The check was good, yes?”

“Yeah, but the police want to talk to you.”

Allan and Ellie jumped to their feet with Allan saying, “Sorry guys, we need to hit the road right now.”

“Hey, what do you mean?”

Allan said, “Ellie and I robbed a bank, so we’re on the run.”

His remark surprised Ellie, but she picked-up on the new alibi. “Like Bonnie and Clyde.”

The couple rushed to their bedroom to gather their stuff and load their backpacks.

Willy and Jimbo followed. “Wait a minute… What’s happening.”

Jimbo said, “This is a joke? Right.”

Allan packed as he talked to Willy and Jimbo. “Hey, if we tell you, we have to kill you.”

Ellie urged, “Allan you’re terrible, tell them the truth.”

“See she’s laughing, some kind of joke here,” said Willy.

Allan gave in. “Okay… we’re underage. We’re minors. Run-a-ways.”

“How underage are you two.”

Ellie said, “Fifteen and sixteen.”

“That’s under-age alright,” said Jimbo. “What about our gambling thing and all the money?”

Allan said with a shake of the head. “Sorry. Game’s over. Guilty of being underage.”

Ellie said, “Off to another hide-out.”

“Hide-out? Wait!” Willy retrieved his mobile and brought up some pics. “Check this out. Did I ever tell you my grandma owns a house trailer in Idaho Springs? She has been trying to sell the shack – so old and dilapidated no one will buy or rent. She gave it to me. I’ve been paying the rent on the lot…. And she’s so senile, I don’t think she even remembers anymore. A hideout!”

Allan passed the picture to Ellie. “Looks like a hideout.”

Willy explained, “Comes with electric, city water-sewer, space heater, and wood burning stove. Someone stole the toilet bowl. This one-in-kind pad is available to a poker buddy. Such a deal, hard to find.”

Allan said, “For poker buddies who manipulate cards.”

“It’s a run-down trailer park next to the interstate. Being honest, I’d say a low class part of town. I don’t think you’d have any doctors or lawyers for neighbors.”

Allan asked, “What about the cops.”

“If they ask, you two left without word, how rude… Shame on you. And you owed us money for groceries.”

Allan rested his hands on Ellie’s shoulders. Noses touched. “You ready for another change in location?”

“I’ll come along for the ride.”

Idaho Springs is the largest city in the Clear Creek County. Here Allan and Ellie shacked-up in a rundown trailer park. As Willy promised, the house trailer was barely inhabitable. They arrived in Jimbo’s pick-up truck with some furniture items and cleaning supplies in the back. A lot of trashed obstructed the front door.

Allan asked, “Willy, why so much garbage here at the door?”

“For good reason, I blocked the door to keep out any burglars after they stole the toilet.”

Allan glanced at Ellie to check her face for a sign of regret.

She said, “Our first home and grand it will be.”

“Ellie, your optimism is contagious.”

Even though the trailer was missing a toilet, everything else seemed in intact. They pulled and collected all the trash into a heaping pile. After a rudimentary cleaning, the place approached livable standards, at least for those desiring independence over luxury. A small town, all necessities were within walking distance: grocery, hardware, post office, and the main business district and Burger Boy with a restroom.

The next week proved productive for the pair as they turned on water, electricity, and gas in Willy’s name. Allan installed a used toilet retrieved from the dump. He reattached the front door and put on a lock. Ellie scrubbed down the greasy kitchen and filthy bathroom. He fixed the cracked windows and tested the space heater. Hard work restored livability to the old shack.

The neighbors, seeing the tortured property redeemed, brought simple gifts of food. Mrs. Sierra gave the kids a houseplant that Ellie hung in the main window and named it Joy.

Work and renovation completed, they celebrated. They cuddled on a donated couch watching the flames from the gas heater bounce shadows off the walls and ceiling. Allan blew in her ear as he talked. “You’re right, it’s become a grand home. Thank you for your work and company.”

“We make a good team.” Ellie giggled as he tickled her neck with his tongue.

Later in the week, Willy drove up with Jimbo for an expected visit and housewarming party. The former roommates stood outside the house trailer in amazement. “I can’t believe this,” commented Willy, while Jimbo repeated, “No way, no way.”

The young homemakers stepped out to the commotion. “Greetings! Come inside and check this out.”

Willy and Jimbo walked back and forth through the trailer. “This is nicer than our apartment. They hung a plant.”

“A woman’s touch, Jimbo, you need to find a lady.”

Ellie gestured to the hallway. “And we set up a guest room in case you guys spend the night. No bed, but it’s cozy.”

“Ellie and I thank you for your help.”

Ellie kissed the two friends. “We might stay in one play for a while.”

Ellie started shopping at a local thrift store run by a senior citizen organization. The trip was a pleasant bike ride along the river to the former Miner Street Hotel. On the second and third floors, independent seniors lived. The main floor accommodated the community room, classrooms, offices, kitchen, and dining hall. The basement housed the thrift shop.

One day when shopping for kitchen utensils, a staffer asked Ellie to tend the cash register for a moment. Ellie began covering the store during the noon hour when the seniors broke for lunch. Maybe subconsciously, she sought older adult companionship or people with a perspective on the past or missed Anna and Oscar. The senior haven became an extension for her life and for Allan as well.

One evening back at the trailer house, Ellie and Allan ate dinner as a news feed streamed in the background. Allan asked, “What’s new?”

Ellie shrugged her shoulders and sighed. “A pervert, I’m being stalked by a pervert.”

Allan stopped eating. “Oh, how’s that.”

“I was working the lunchtime register, and this old guy in the back of the store behind a rack is staring at me for a long time. He creeped me out. Afterwards, I was eating a piece of pie in the dining room and he was watching me from the far side of the room. At the bike rack, he was there and watched me ride off.”

“Did you tell anyone?”

“I will if he’s back and acting weird.”

The next day at Senior Center, a clamor from the lunchroom reverberated to Ellie at the register.

“The damn old fool is back,” reported Carolynn back from lunch.

Upstairs Ellie observed the ornery senior from yesterday making a stir. “Where’s the damn salt,” he screamed, “No salt! You expect me to eat this tasteless crap and stale stinky chicken. Don’t we get any real meat around here anymore? Where’s the beef!” Some on-lookers laughed at the remark.

Director Carolynn, a statuesque woman, confronted the six-foot plus senior. “You know we serve a low sodium diet for health reasons. Hamburgers are on the menu tomorrow.”

At this time, Carolynn’s phone connected. “Hi Red, your hubby, is down here again creating a scene. He brought the cook to tears.”

When the senior shouted, “I want to eat to eat a cow – not a bird!” his head jerked to see Ellie staring at a distance. He stopped his tirade and gawked at her. Their minds connected or collided when suddenly the geezer scampered out a side exit.

Carolynn said, “Wow, you made an impression on him!”

“Who is he? asked Ellie.”

“His name is Jacob Simms. Some days he strolls over for lunch, sits awhile, and leaves. Might not come around for days or weeks. He lives down the street with his wife in a historic mansion built during the mining era. He is a strange one. Whenever the center is short on cash, he covers the debt. He’s got cash stored away.”

The following day Allan worked the cash register with Ellie. He hoped the troublesome elder might reappear. An older petite female with red hair and blue eyes strolled into the thrift store for a chat.

“Hello, they call me Little Red. Carolynn told me you are Ellie and you are Allan helping out today.”

“We are.”

“I came by to apologize for my husband’s behavior and try to explain a few things about Jake. He’s a weird cranky old man with health problems of the mental type though the man is strong like a bull. He’s never gotten physical, but we are concerned. Well, he’s been regressing over the years, kinda living in his own world, not talking much, just sitting around, not responsive to much or anybody.”

“Red, thanks for the information.”

“Ah that’s not all… Jake, the last few days, has been agitated and talking about a girl named Ellie.”

“What does he say about me?”

“Well, he rambles and doesn’t know himself, but apparently there’s something about you. He says he’ll figure it out. I’m sorry Dearie. I don’t mean to scare you.”

Allan said, “I’ll help Ellie with the register until things settle down.”

“I’ll keep you and Carolynn informed. I’m worried. I hope to get a hold of his brother. He usually drops by for a visit in the spring. Jake and I have only been married for fifteen years. Before that, I used to be his housekeeper and lived in the carriage house.” She winked. “You know how that can go.”

One afternoon at the senior center, Allan left the cash register on a plumbing emergency with a plunger. Mr. Kasminksi on the second floor broke his toilet and water was leaking down into the basement thrift shop.

After lunch, Allan bumped into Ellie in the hallway. “Sorry Ellie, I gotta run to hardware and get a new flush value. You mind?”

“No problem, I’ll hang and visit.” Ellie stood in the front vestibule watching street traffic. Across the street, at the library green on a park bench next to the historic civil war canon sat weird Jake – head down, body slumped, hands clasped. She left and stood at a distance scrutinizing the static old man.

Looks dead. Died on a bench. Heart Attack? Ignored. Someone should check.

Ellie left to investigate. At the street corner, she paused for traffic to see Jake lift his head and stare in her direction. Between the moving cars and trucks blocking the view, their eyes engaged. His glare remained as she crossed the street and approached.

Watching the traffic Elle said to Jake, “You figure it out yet, because I got a clue.”

“No.”

“You have a secret Jake, a big one and that’s what this is about.”

“So do you.”

“Ellie,” shouted Allan, who came running. “Is everything okay?”

“We’re good Allan.” She nodded to say, “Goodbye Jake.”

They left and Allan asked, “What was that about?”

“Jake has a big secret and won’t tell.”

Allan tugged on her sleeve to tease. “Who else has a big secret and won’t tell?”

A few days later, Ellie returned from the Food Mart with a bag of groceries and found Allan head-down on the kitchen table.

“Allan what’s wrong?” He was weeping.

He lifted his head exposing his wet eyes. “Willy and Jimbo are dead.”

“What!”

“I got a tweet from the complex. Look at my tablet. I brought up the newspaper. I also saw the story on the evening news. The murder is so fucking bizarre… Why,” he whimpered. “I don’t understand – three people dead. Willy and Jimbo gone. Just like that!”

 

 

The Pueblo Chieftain, CO June 9, 2018

Four People Reported Dead in Pueblo

Pueblo City Police report three people dead in a local apartment complex for college students. Two of the victims were found in the doorway and hallway of the apartment. Detective Jeff Bender gave no information on a motive but said the victim in the bedroom experienced severe head trauma while the other victims showed no signs of physical injury to the body.

 

The police department received a call about 4:15 a.m. from a young woman who discovered the bodies and fled. Officers arrived to confirm the deaths. An investigation is underway. Jay Johnson, the director for the student complex said, “This is a terrible tragedy, and our hearts go out to the victims of these senseless acts and their families. Crisis counseling will be made available to students and others.”

 

 

Allan stumbled into a quagmire of emotions. Most of his life he did not feel, and now the floodgates spilled open. Ellie caressed Allan as his rational mind tried to process the situation. Time and silence tucked them away to bed.

Allan slipped from her embrace to stroke her hair. “Ellie, everything will change again.”

“Yeah… I expected…” a half-asleep Ellie whispered. “We always get by.”

“All the bills are in Willy’s name. In thirty days or so, everything will become past due. Already the cops chase us and these murders – we could be persons of interest as recent roommates. Shit, we need to move again and find a different hide-out.”

The two took temporary refuge in bed sleeping, cuddling, crying, talking, and wondering.

Allan’s stomach forced a trip to the refrigerator to fetch a meal for the microwave. Munching a slice of pizza in bed, he said, “We got a bit of time before we take off.”

“Is there time to say goodbye?”

“Yes, but more so, we drop a misleading clue about our future whereabouts.”

“Where’s our next hideout, Clyde Barrow?”

“A college town full of drunken frat boys, Bonnie Parker. We need a bunch of poker chumps to con.”

“Ellie if we get the gambling thing going again, we’ll rent a nice room and use roommates and college as cover. And play our flutes under a tree on the campus green – until eighteen.”

With the sleeve of her pajamas, Ellie wiped tomato sauce off the tip of Allan’s nose. “We owe a few words and goodbye to Carolynn at the senior center. What’s our story and cover?”

“Your mother is sick in Chicago. We must go back.”

“Tomorrow is Bingo Night. We promised to help out.”

That evening at the senior center, the couple informed Carolynn about Ellie’s mom. “Unexpected heart attack and emergency by-pass surgery – someone will have to look after Grandma. We’ll write and let you know when we’re coming back.”

Afterwards, the two walked home to their last night in the house trailer.

“Allan, let’s walk along Eureka Street, there are some big old homes from the mining days. Jake and Red live in one of them.”

As the sun faded, the streetlights illuminated a tired neighborhood of neglected historic mansions.

“Red says they live in a house owned by a mining baron.”

“You got a street number?”

“101.”

The address brought them to a three story red brick Victorian with a carriage house on an over-sized corner lot surrounded by an iron fence. From the sidewalk, Ellie and Allan were following the fence line, when two large dogs approached for a sniff and a snort. “Check out these guys.”

“Wow… Huskies, Malamutes, Wolves?”

The silent animals accompanied them to a gate bearing the name Simms where the two dogs sat and eyeballed the passing couple.

“Wow Ellie, this Jake is rich.”

“Yep, a character for sure. Who will pop around the corner next?”

Allan giggled. “I’d like to pop under the covers with you and snuggle. Shall we shortcut past the old mill? We’ll be home sooner.”

Allan referred to the historic Targo Mill and Tunnel constructed in 1893. The dilapidated facility existed as a tacky tourist attraction and museum.

Allan and Ellie walked behind the upper portion of the mill along a hillside. Exterior chutes and bins extended down a steep slope to the river. They passed the gated tunnel portal that drained the tainted murky water from the ancient mines. Only the sparse light from a security lamp lit the way as the two gabbed and clasped hands.

Ellie said, “Wait Allan, something is not right.”

“What do you mean?”

“Stop. I want to listen and feel. Someone or something is here. I’m scared.”

Ellie remained motionless, hoping to sense more, but only the blowing wind and creaking wood sounded. “Let’s go, Allan.”

They proceeded to the security of a lone light bulb above a plank wood and iron hinged door.

Ellie pointed and whispered. “There, the figure.”

The silhouette of a body stood forward blocking passage not too far away.

Allan clasped her hand. “Deja vu, the highway.” A glance behind exposed another. “Behind us, we’re surrounded.”

The vague profiles of the shadowy individuals advanced in their direction. The alarmed couple stood at the top of the structure in front of a utility entrance, previously used by workers and padlocked. Allan kicked the decrepit door. The hinges dislodged from the rotting wood and the door crashed to the ground. Moonlight streaking from the gable windows, exposed the ore bins that once fed mineral down cascading conveyers into crushing mechanical devices and acid baths.

“Through here,” he shouted. They ran.

Outside from the doorway, a shocking flash, a blast stunned and collapsed Alan to the deck and knocked Ellie forward. Her body tumbled, clunked, and flopped down a flight of stairs.

From his belly, into the darkness he screamed, “Ellie!”

“Allan,” she whimpered.

“Honk-honk-honk,” shrieked the security alarm.

I can’t move! A paralyzed Allan gasped for air as something or someone clutched his neck and raised him off his feet.

Fight… Fight… My right arm moves… Box cutter. Box cutter!

Allan reached for his belt and grabbed the razor blade knife he carried to cut up the boxes in the cafeteria kitchen. When the thing lifted and rotated Allan, he slashed and sliced into the dim light at what seemed to be a faceless or masked attacker – just eyes and some holes. The attacker squealed like a pig and dropped Allan.

My leg works. Crawl. Escape. Find Ellie.

Allan squirmed off the landing and plummeted down the stairwell only to land on top of Ellie. The two lay unconscious. Allan woke to see a human-in-form lanky creature dragging Ellen by her arms.

A firm grip latched onto his ankle and tugged. With his working leg, Allan delivered a shot to the groin causing a minute reaction from the attacker. His second kick buckled the kneecap of the assailant causing the demon to collapse, stumble backwards, and fall through a decrepit railing. Leaping up, Allan lunged at Ellie’s abductor and knocked her free. He and the fiend crashed down another flight of stairs rendering the thing twisted and still.

Allan scampered back to Ellie’s side and found her unresponsive, but breathing. Over his shoulder, he heaved Ellie. Accompanied by the screech of the alarm, Allan hobbled down several levels of stairs to the ground floor and a flashing emergency exit. Crashing through the door, they escaped into the night. A few hundred feet away in the rear parking lot of a closed Chinese restaurant, they hid and rested behind a greasy trash dumpster.

“Ellie, Ellie can you hear me?” Allan removed the bloody tangled strands of hair off her eyes. With his hand, he wiped the grit from her face. “Ellie…” Silence. “Ellie.” He sobbed.

“Allan.” She opened her eyes.

“Ellie, are you okay?”

“It’s hard to move.” She raised her hand to touch his face, but failed.

“You need a doctor.”

Flashing lights, sirens, and police cars arrived at the mill.

“Oh No… Wait… Allan they’ll take us away and we’ll never see each other again.”

“Not true Ellie, we are entangled and will always be together.”

“Help me up Allan, it’s not over yet.”

Her body squirmed as she tried to control her limbs. Allan could not ignore her tenacity. He grasped her around the waist and he lifted the struggling girl to her feet. With a tight hug, he held Ellie up hoping she might support her weight. After an appeal to a higher power, her legs came back. “Allan, I think, I can walk now. Let’s go home.”

“Ellie, I’m sorry Honey, we can’t. Someone-something wants us – is chasing us – might kill us just like Jimbo and Willy. They may be waiting for us. I don’t know why. We got serious problems…”

“My intuition tells me Jake and Red will help us.”

“I like the elder gal, but that crazy old man?”

“We can trust Jake. I’m getting better. Let’s go.”

 

Chapter 21 – Jake, Cousin, and Red

Down dark allies, behind houses, and off the sidewalks, Allan staggered with a clinging Ellie as they attempted to avoid streetlights and attention. In the background, a cruising police car, beaming a spotlight, patrolled the neighbor.

A fatigued Allan said, “Ellie, there’s Jake and Red’s house.”

At the gated entrance stood the two large dogs as if waiting.

“Damn! How do we get through the yard and to the door?”

A patrolling police car turned the corner and approached.

“Nice doggies,” pleaded Allan.

“They won’t bite,” said Ellie who unlatched the gate. “The dogs know we need help.”

They hobbled to the front porch with the animals in tow. Allan rang the doorbell and waited. No answer and tried again. He banged an antique doorknocker over and over and the doorbell some more. The dogs watched quietly.

Out of options and tired and battered, Ellie and Allan dropped to the porch with their backs against the door.

“Maybe we’ll sleep here for a while.”

“Yeah.”

“Wow… What a night.”

“Yeah.”

Down the staircase, came Jake toting a shotgun and Red carrying a handgun. “I don’t hear anything now.”

At the door Jake said, “You open and get out of the way. I’ll shoot if need be.”

Red flung open the door and a comatose Allan and Ellie fell into the front hallway and crumpled to the floor.

“Oh dear God!”

Jake scooped up Ellie and brought her to the living room couch. Red attempted to pull Allan in the house by his legs. Jake returned and carried a stupefied Allan to the sofa.

Red said, “I’ll call 911.”

“No,” shouted Allan. “You can’t call the police.”

“A doctor of course,” replied Red.

“No Red, you can’t,” spoke up Ellie, “we’ll be okay.” Ellie and Jake stared at each other for an uncomfortable length.

Jake said to Red, “Let’s wait for the moment.”

Jake and Red stood silent as the dirty and battered couple regained their senses.

An hour later, Allan and Ellie, cleaned and clothed in borrowed pajamas and patched with a scattering of bandages, lay tucked away in the extra bedroom. Red sat at the foot of the bed while Jake leaned against the wall.

Red asked, “I apologize for prying, but what happened tonight and why no police or a doctor? Are you in trouble?”

A moment of reckoning arrived. Allan spoke first. “Someone or something is trying to kill us.”

“Something or someone, an odd choice of words,” said Red.

He replied, “I don’t think they’re human – no faces, just eyes and some holes.”

Ellie added, “We’re thinking aliens like extraterrestrial.”

Red remained speechless, her face blank. Propped against the wall, Jake straightened and shifted weight between legs.

Allan flared a rare rush of anger. “They killed our roommates – three people in Pueblo – one strange murder scene. You must’ve heard on the news.”

Ellie said, “The police want us.”

Red raised her hands. “Nothing to fear, tell the police what you know. The truth will set you free.”

“We can’t.”

“Why? You two don’t strike me as the murdering type.” Red glanced at Jake for acknowledgement.

“The truth is, we’re underage runaways – minors. If Ellie and I get picked up, we’ll be separated. We’ll leave in the morning.”

Allan looked at Ellie. “We need to get our packs and stuff from the house trailer.”

“No. Everyone wait,” said Jake. “For now we all go to bed and rest. We’ll talk more at breakfast.” He stepped out to the hallway and shouted, “Romulus, Remus, Kitty!”

In walked the two big dogs. Jake said, “About the alien killer thing, these guys will keep an eye out for anything odd.”

Jake addressed the dogs. “Stay here tonight… Red and I are down the hallway with guns. Leave your door open.”

In strolled a big brown-blonde cat that perched itself on the footboard and peered at Allan and Ellie. “Wow, that’s a big cat or lion.”

“Don’t mind Kitty,” said Red. “She’s about 50 pounds and still growing. Jake brought her home as an abandoned kitten. Sometimes she sleeps on this bed. Since you two have the sheets and blankets, let’s give Kitty the bedspread.” Red pulled off the quilt and bunched the bedding on the floor for the feline who took up a spot.

Jake closed the window blinds. “The latch is locked. You’re secure.” After giving each animal a scratch on the ear, he shut off the light and left. “Good night.”

At the end of the hallway, Red confronted Jake. “I confused or missing something. What aren’t you telling me, Jacob? What’s going on between you and that girl? Why the sudden interest in teenagers? Since when did you start caring again? These days, you treat me like a piece of furniture.”

Jake said, “I’m sorry Red. You’re right. Can we please sleep on it? I need to think.”

The next morning an older biker arrived on a vintage Harley and parked the cycle in the driveway. Jake greeted the man with a handshake and a hug. The two men sat down at the kitchen table with a plate of doughnuts; Jake poured coffee.

“You’re early getting in, must be the no snow.”

The visitor whiffed the coffee before a zip. “Only on your end, I live in paradise.”

The visitor removed a small box from his backpack. “Check it out.”

Jake opened a jewelry box displaying a gold nugget necklace. “Thanks Bro, she’ll love this… Such a collector of fancy trinkets she is. She has nothing like this. I really owe Red a nice birthday present. I’ve been such a shithead lately.”

“Lately? Your MO for the last five years.”

Jake nodded in agreement. “Thanks for telling me again.”

Cousin’s voice expressed concern. “Are you back? Last time we talked, you were waiting for death. Are things different now?”

Jake turned his face away and became silent. He walked to the kitchen window and stared out. “Yeah, conceivably things could be different. In the guest bedroom, sleep a young couple, named Ellie and Allan. Underage runaways who may prove useful. I’d like you to meet them.”

“Useful for what?”

“Paradise.”

“Oh hell, here we go again. I’ve gotten use to the ways things are. What’s so special about them?”

“Well, besides my recent nightmares about Sis, I’ve seen this Ellie in my dreams also. The girl is intuitive and knows I have a secret. She gets inside my head. And this Ellie and Allan claim aliens with no faces are trying to kill them. They were attacked last night.”

The visitor stretched out his legs and eased back into the chair. “Oh, interesting and coincidental and they escaped. Still alive, huh?”

Jake said, “For lack of a better term, they possess an unusual maturity or unique disposition.” He looked at his twin for a reaction. “Perhaps we should tell someone.”

“Jake, you swore never again. Everybody, who knows is dead and usually dies tragically. How many times must we agree it ends with us?”

“Cousin, if we do nothing, they’re probably gonna die anyway.”

“Damn you Jake, you don’t know and you’re chasing a bullshit faceless alien story.”

From upstairs Red yelled, “Who you got down there, Jake? Do I need to put a dress on?”

“Our spring visitor Red.”

She shouted back, “Just what this house needs, another man named Jake. I’m not getting dressed up for you, Honey, but I still love ya.”

Cousin said, “Always the feisty one.”

Red cooked breakfast and brought a tray up to a still sleeping Ellie and Allan, who remained in bed past noon. Eventually the pair wandered down to an empty house. A view from the kitchen window placed the Simms in the backyard sitting around a picnic table and a smoking outdoor grill.

A bandaged and sore Ellie and Allan, hand in hand for balance and comfort, shuffled to the garden gathering. “Good morning.” The slow and stiff moving couple settled aching bodies into chairs. “Thank you for a night in bed.”

“Much of the day as well… Do you two need a doctor?”

“Oh no,” said Ellie, “we’re young and heal quickly.”

Allan said, “No broken bones and no bleeding just a lot of hurt when we move.”

“Allan and Ellie meet my twin brother, also named Jake.”

Red warned Allan and Ellie. “The Simms twins have been drinking beer, whiskey, and smoking pot – a spring ritual, typical reunion for these two. Excuse them if they get silly. I’ll fetch a salad from the kitchen.”

The identical, but long-haired brother extended his hand and greeted, “Happy to meet you. Care for a beer or something else?”

Red shouted from the window. “Don’t you get them drunk or stoned. They’re minors. You’ll go to jail!”

Jake cringed. “Damn the ears on her head and the tongue in her mouth.”

A smiling Ellie said, “Your name is Jake too.”

“True, as our mother would say, one name is less to remember.”

Jake clarified, “Supposedly, the first one in the room is the Jake – the next brother in is called Cousin, but over the years, I’ve become the Jake because I have a purple birthmark on my belly. All men in the Simms family are named Jacob, a long-standing family tradition.”

Jake lifted his shirt to expose his stomach. “See.”

Red returned with a bottle of wine. “Allan and Ellie, you get a glass of wine with your ribs.”

Allan asked, “Are you in the mining business?”

Cousin responded, “I am. We are. All the men, and sometimes women, are miners.”

Jake directed his attention to the young couple and said in a loud tone. “Your secret is still safe.”

Allan and Ellie chuckled. “Your mention of the secret tells us Cousin should know.”

“Or already knows,” said Ellie.

Red said, “They murder people with axes.”

“Secrets,” Cousin exclaimed, “Allan and Ellie, this family is entrenched with frickin secrets and oh the skeletons in closets, we hide. Take no fear in sharing yours with me.”

“I’m fifteen.”

“I’m sixteen.”

Cousin pretended surprise with a roll of the eyes. “Considering the ages of people here, I wish my secret. So you two are runaways being chased by cops on Earth and extraterrestrials from another planet with no faces. You guys must sell and do a lot of drugs?”

After an awkward moment of silence Cousin asked, “Allan and Ellie, my brother and I have encountered aliens without faces. What do you think about that?”

Allan said, “You do a lot of drugs, or you’re crazy, or telling the truth.”

After engaging Cousin’s eyes, Ellie said, “He’s telling the truth.”

Red flipped the grill open. “Let’s talk about spacemen and Bigfoot while we eat.”

The five gnawed on rib bones until Ellie asked Cousin. “Where do you live?”

“A good question – not a simple answer. I am approximately twenty-five miles west, as the birds fly, almost on the Continental Divide at an elevation of 11,001 feet. I work the family gold mine. Folks wonder why I’m only around part of the year. Once the snow falls, I trapped and can’t get out.”

“Can you snowshoe out?” Allan asked.

“I could. I like hunkering down. I recall a pretty woman who kept me in town for the winter. Short-lived, a long time ago.”

Jake said, “This Simms family house is a refuge for kinfolk. Cousin is more a mountain man at heart.”

Ellie inquired, “A family gold mine, I thought all the gold was gone.”

Cousin liked talking about gold. “Plenty of gold left. Much is a low-grade ore that needs processing with chemicals and there’s the deep stuff in and below the water table – too expensive and dangerous. The EPA and the public won’t allow, especially with the drought and climate change. Also, the Russians are pulling plenty out of Siberia.”

“Then how do you make money mining gold?” Allan questioned.

The blank-faced brothers sat silent. Finally, one said, “I guess we’re luckier than most.”

Jake stopped eating. “You two will need a few more days to recuperate.” He pointed across the yard. “There’s a vacant carriage house you can use until you’re well enough to travel or make some kind of decision. We’ll get your stuff out of the house trailer. It’s a secret you two are here. You’re hiding out for now. Okay by you guys?”

A glance between the wounded teens prompted Allan. “Thank you, we’ll pay you back someday.”

Jake replied, “Yes you may, but for now heal, sleep, and keep company with Rom, Rem, and Kat; they will protect.”

Cousin winked. “The animals hate faceless aliens who mug humans.” He directed his words to his brother. “This week, I’ll be shopping for supplies, but afterwards, I’d like to take the truck up to the mine, bring down mineral, and be off to business.”

Jake shook his head yes. “Sure,” and explained, “Every year, we sell the gold to refineries.” He then said to his brother, “Allan and Ellie might enjoy a visit to the gold mine.”

Cousin balked as Jake talked. “An old time historic operation high on the divide – the fresh air and the view priceless.”

An excited Red jumped to her feet. “Me too, I haven’t been to the mine in years.”

Jake addressed Cousin, “I am in a festive mood. Let’s all take a trip to the family mine. The mountain deserves some company.”

“And better times,” said Red.

A reluctant Cousin whined, “I wasn’t expecting company, the place might be messy… And smelly… And full of bugs.”

 

Chapter 22 – The Mine

Allan and Ellie, concealed in their new hideaway, needed but a few days to recuperate. Gossip in town reported them in Chicago.

The following Sunday, the Twins, Red, the Kids, Rom, Rem, and Kit loaded into a crew cab pickup – people up front, animals in back. They embarked on a trip to the historic Alice Mining District surrounded by the community of St. Mary’s Glacier and bordered by the James Peak Wilderness Area. A bankrupt ski venue, an abandoned bar and restaurant, and an old schoolhouse cluttered the area. In 1881, prospectors discovered the Alice Glory Hole, the largest gold deposit in Clear Creek County. High-pressure water washed out the easy gold while hard rock miners burrowed into the mountain walls with pickaxe and shovel.

They drove to an elevation of 10,000 feet and four-wheeled up a rough road posted with signs:

PRIVATE PROPERTY, NO TRESPASSING, PIT BULLS

“Pit Bulls?” Ellie exclaimed with alarm.

“Not really,” Cousin replied, “Siberian Husky-wolf-hybrids. Hearing our clamor, they should be at the gate momentary.”

Down the dirt road scurried a six-pack of barking dogs, wolf like in appearance. Rom, Rem, and Kit greeted their friends and were eager for a romp in the open space.

Jake instructed. “Allan and Ellie stand close and still. Let them acquire your scent.”

The animals accompanied them up several switchbacks until the truck parked in a sunny flat clearing. Snow-capped mountains and fourteen thousand foot peaks the surrounded the vicinity. Ore cart rails tracked to a gated tunnel. An old log cabin sat nestled in the trees along with an assortment of outbuildings, a windmill, and some solar panels. From the hillside, an artesian well piped water into a cistern.

“Allow me to show you around. The mine site is 33 acres bought up over the years and enclosed by a six-foot electric fence that keeps out bears, lions, humans and the dogs contained. The cabin dates back to 1892, restored numerous times and retrofitted with electricity, water, and plumbing.”

Cousin pointed around the property.

“Dog’s den… Workshop… Food storage… Battery shed. And the fire pit for campfires, cooking, and gatherings.”

Red said, “You guys don’t gather.”

“In our younger days,” replied Cousin.

Allan said, “Everything to be self-sufficient and independent.”

“We are,” a brother chuckled, “more independent than most could ever imagine.”

The brothers tended to business. “Let’s unload the truck and get on with spring chores. Then we can kick back.”

Red grabbed a box of cooking utensils. “I bet your kitchen needs a woman’s attention.”

Cousin snatched a crate out of Allan’s hands. “Relax; take a walk around the property – hard to get lost since you’re fenced in.”

Allan clasped Ellie hand. “A hiking we will go.”

As they examined the homestead, the dogs ushered them about.

“We’ve been adopted into the pack.”

Allan admired the dogs as he ran his hand down the spine of one animal.

“Humans, wolves, dogs, we go back a long way.”

Ellie figured out the group leader, “Follow the big guy. He’s leading the pack.”

The pack meandered through the trees and rock formations until the pine transitioned into an Aspen grove and an alpine meadow.

“Allan,” an amazed Ellie sang out, “so beautiful… An enchanted forest!”

Allan stopped short to avoid stepping on the foliage. “Notice the flowers of all colors.”

“Look gravestones. This is a cemetery.”

Upon reading the stones, they glanced back at each other with stunned expressions.

Allan spoke somberly. “The tombstones are marked Jacob or Sarah, different dates, 1800’s to the 2000’s.”

A subdued Ellie said, “What kind of lives did they live?”

On a smooth large bolder, a quiet Ellie and Allan rested with the dogs. When Allan, Ellie, and the pack strolled into camp, the others were standing around the pit drinking.

Red pointed. “Allan and Ellie, in the jug is brown ale. I ferment a batch every winter for spring days as this. Might you care for some?”

Ellie smacked her lips. Foamy broth formed around Allan’s mouth. “The brew is so thick you can eat it with a fork.”

Red held her glass mug in the sunlight. “Speckles float in the beer. Sometimes we give it to the dogs for de-worming.”

She snorted as she tried to drink and joke. “We need to cook. Cousin gets the meat. Ellie helps me in the cabin. Jake goes to the root cellar and pulls jerky for the dogs. Allan make sure no one screws up.”

The group spent the latter part of the day at the fire pit eating and drinking beer. Allan and Ellie were eager for the stories the elders could tell. Conversation focused on town gossip and the senior center until Cousin directed a question to the young pair.

“What expectations do you have for the future?”

“Future?” Allan moved to a spot next to Ellie and said, “Well, I’m a psychopath who fakes empathy and love and Ellie is a budding psychic who hears and see things and aliens want to kill us. We’re just trying to hang on, but I prefer an Allan and Ellie in control.”

Ellie said, “What would we control?”

“Our lives.” Allan eyes opened wide. “We create our own reality.”

Cousin asked a question. “Create your own reality – where did that part come from?”

Allan directed his attention to the Brothers. “The collapse of the wave function, you think Doctor Simms?”

Jake smiled, “Allan, you’re a smart one.”

Ellie said, “He’s well-read.”

Cousin responded, “I see you’ve been reading our diplomas on the wall.”

“Call me old fashion,” said Allan, “I’ll stick with the Copenhagen Interpretation.”

Ellie said, “Call me a rebel, I like Penrose’s non-computable space-time.”

Allan said, “Ellie is well-read as well.”

Cousin teased, “Ellie, you are a rebel. Penrose speculates. He has no proof.”

Red jumped up and took control. “Alright, you guys, what-the-hell are you talking about?”

“I’m sorry Red,” Jake said, “the science of quantum mechanics tells us matter or atoms are not solid but rather waveforms. When we observe or try to measure the waveform, it collapses and becomes matter. It suggests human consciousness selects from an infinite number of possible outcomes in a Multiuniverse and consequently creates reality.”

Cousin said, “Actually a ring match between Aristotle and Plato. Aristotle believed we were part of the world. Plato believed the world was part of us.”

Ellie said, “Then there is the question of what is human consciousness. Hameroff’s idea that the brain is a quantum computer deserves some attention.”

Allan concluded, “Red, I keep it simple on the operational level. I just choose positive outcomes and stay optimistic. Avoid the fear others wallow in.”

Red replied, “Okay, I get it. A bunch of the old stuff re-wrapped for the twenty-first century. Philosophy merges with physics, throw in positive mental attitude and you get a belief system for the next millennial.”

Twilight loomed. The gathering moved closer to the fire for warmth. The pace of the conversation temporarily faded until Ellie recalled. “The dogs took us up to a beautiful spot, a cemetery.”

“Oh,” said Jake, “we should have given you a heads up on the clan plot.”

“Allan and I were surprised by the gravestones with the same names.”

The brother signed, “We a lost sister named Sarah. Since her death, the Simms women are named the same… And Jake for the males. Those graves are memorial, no bodies.”

A stoic Cousin stared at the fire in the pit. “We are a family who over the years has witnessed the passing of too many kin. Misfortune runs deep. My brother and I are the last Simms. These days, I’d hope, we try to seek more for others than for ourselves.”

“I’m not sure I understand,” Allan disclosed.

The brothers became silent and verged on tears. Red huddled between the twins to console.

Cousin spoke, “We still morn Sister.”

“I remember her on nights at the campfire. She would sing under the stars with the voice of an angel as our mother sang to us when we were children.”

Cousin recited the words.

“The water is wide. I cannot cross over. Sis and mom’s favorite song.”

Jake wiped his eyes. “Many years Bro since we heard such sounds.”

Unnoticed Ellie retrieved two flutes from her backpack and handed one to Allan. No words were necessary. They played and then she sang.

 

The water is wide, I cannot cross o’er

And neither have I the wings to fly

Build me a boat that can carry two

And both shall row, my true love and I

A ship there is and she sails the seas

She’s laden deep, as deep can be

But not so deep as the love I’m in

And I know not if I sink or swim

 

The touching melodies of Allan and Ellie’s mellow flutes saturated the evening sky like grace from heaven. The evocative music returned the brothers to a previous age.

Ellie stopped playing her flute and glared into the dim remaining light of the night. The others traced her stare. Abrupt silence replaced music – standing before them appeared a humanoid type creature – soundless, motionless, and staring.

 

Chapter 23 – Revelations

The hairless creature’s cranium crested with a slight ridge partially extending down its forehead. Non-blinking amber eyes stared. The combined face appeared selected – a copy and paste on a different background. The naked humanoid exhibited a pale complexion tinged pink with no obvious genital organs or nipples – sexless. A little less than average height, the lanky, bland, petite being projected a lab rat persona. The humanoid appeared familiar in a mysterious way.

After a speechless moment of conjecture, the brothers stood to address the intruder.

Ellie placed everyone at ease by perceiving the humanoid’s intent. “Consider it a peaceful visitor; it is afraid.”

Red noticed first and said in a tone of bewilderment. “Can it be? It bears a Simms face… A family resemblance!”

Her stunning observation shocked the Twins. The brothers glared at the alien’s face, and after examination, referenced each other’s for comparison. The rest of the group imitated as they scanned back and forth.

Jake looked at his brother. “Red is right. Look at the nose and the way its eyes are set. We have the same faces… Odd.”

Cousin touched his face to make sure his was still there. “I don’t get it.”

The Brothers and Red consumed with bewilderment caused Ellie to act and moved towards the stranger. “What brings you to our camp?”

The alien advanced a step and extended its hands, palms up in a non-threatening manner. “I understand; I speak your language; do not fear me. I seek refuge.”

Although the humanoid spoke in a human voice, its tone sounded precise and robotic. The twins stepped forward and tipped their heads in gratitude to Ellie. Jake gathered his faculties over the facial similarities and calmly responded. “Who are you and why do you seek refuge?”

The strange visitor, bowed its head, paused and returned eye contact.

“I am a genetic mutation of your DNA. My genetic memory tells me I am Sister Sarah, deceased sister of Simms siblings. I seek refuge from my captors and creators and seek freedom.”

Allan and Ellie, looking at each other, swapped thoughts. Jake and Cousins’ dead sister is an extra-terrestrial!

Red addressed the Brothers. “What the hell is going on?”

Jake spoke first. “I’m sorry Red, for the last fifteen years, I’ve deceived you. There’s much you do not know about me and my brother.”

“You lied to me?”

Cousin said, “We did Red – more surprises beyond a visit from our dead sister.”

A gush of suppressed memories over-whelmed the Brothers. A genetic facsimile of their long missing sibling stood before them. Jake asked, “Refuge you say, are you being chased? Do your captors know where you are?”

“I believe no. I wandered lost in a maze of improbable worlds until my arrival.”

The Brothers extended their arms, but after a touch of hands, they hugged a clone of missing Sister Sarah Simms.

“Dear Sister we’ve dreamed of such an occasion. Please come in to our cabin and join us.”

With those words, this assorted collection of characters assembled for an extraterrestrial encounter. Once inside, at the kitchen table, Sarah sat at the front with a brother on each side. Red, Ellie, and Allan clustered close for a meeting with someone beyond their world.

Awkward silence thickened the air, until Red said, “Hi Sister, I’m Red. Honey, you’re sitting there without clothes, let me get you something to wear.” Ellie and Red left and returned, and dress the naked visitor in jeans, a sweatshirt, and hiking boots.

“Thank you for garments.”

Red asked, “Would everyone care for a cup of spiced apple cider?”

Sarah said nothing; her head gestured yes.

The group exchanged glances as Red fetched a jug and passed out drinking cups. Cousin said, “Let’s not get her drunk.”

Allan asked, “How did you get here? Flying saucer – Spaceship.”

Sister said, “I traveled through another dimension using a wormhole and came out its portal.”

“Wormhole,” said Allan. “Wormhole?”

Cousin said to his Brother, “Dimensions, just as we thought. We have confirmation from another source.”

“Wormhole,” Allan repeated. “Someone tell me about the frickin wormhole.”

Jake answered, “Our mine is a portal – a wormhole – to an infinite number of parallel universes. Our gold comes from another nearby universe we visit – our second home. Cousin spends his winters there. This secret is what we call our family legacy. Also, we encountered extraterrestrials in our travels. All types out there, so we took a special interest in your faceless alien story. We’ve seen a few.”

“You could have told me,” snapped Red as she poured cider spilling some in anger.

Cousin asked, “Is the real Sarah alive?”

“In the experiment, my alien abductors sacrificed Sarah’s life. I am re-combined chromosomes from my native species and your human sister Sarah – bio-engineered for research purposes. In the process, my species uses, I retain much of her memories and knowledge. I speak your language and remember our lives together as children. Engineered with a limbic system, I feel emotions as you. Therefore, in the pursuit of freedom and happiness, I chose to escape and flee to a better existence. My calculating determination and Sister’s memories brought me through the wormhole. I utilized the analytical talent of my native brain and the emotional human part to track and sense your location – you, my genetic or approximate relatives. The familiar flute music guided my journey to your world.”

“Why do you seek refuge?” Jake questioned.

“I am a test subject in a research project. I am confined and used in experiments. When Sarah disappeared, the so-called singing, she heard – a quantum entanglement – attracted and summoned her to the wormhole portal you discovered and to my planet before her expected retrieval date.”

Cousin asked, “Retrieval date?”

“In my civilization, the world I flee, human physiology warrants considerable attention. My native alien species, lacks emotion, but possess superior analytical capabilities. We, except for Red, are mutant humanoid descendants from an extraterrestrial species.”

“She’s nuts,” spouted Red.

Allan responded, “You’re talking about the book, Chariots of the Gods, 1968, by Daniken our planet was seeded by ancient alien astronauts.”

“No, I am not,” came her reply. “For over two hundred years, my civilization has been engineering a hybrid sub-species with human genes, the Simms siblings the first round of experiments. Extraterrestrial impregnators periodically mate with female earthlings and create hybrid offspring. The humanoids mature in their native environment and are retrieved at different ages and harvested for further genetic research. We are humanoid – half human and half alien.”

“We are what?” Allan challenged. “Who is that we part again?”

The assembly stared at the informer expecting more proof.

“We share the eye color amber, an inherited dominant trait of my native species. And illegitimacy, we never knew our fathers.”

“All things considered dear Sister,” Cousin implored, “you gotta give us more than a few coincidences. Needless to say, your story is a challenge to our self-image and sanity.”

Jake asked, “Fathers, a good topic, tell us about these impregnators you mentioned earlier.”

“Impregnators are engineered to physically assimilate into the population and disseminated to different countries. The impregnators target woman of lower socio-economic conditions because they attract less concern regarding paternity suits. By design, the alien males expire after insemination to avoid complications.”

Ellie said, “I sense you’re not telling us the scary parts.”

“The mature hybrids are located, kidnapped, and transported to my home planet.”

Cousin bellowed. “Hey, they forgot about us. What happen to me and my brother?”

“Your travels and time between the other universes disrupted their ability to locate you. You are also an older genetic model no longer relative. My brothers, you are of no interest because of your ages. Mortal danger threatens Allan and Ellie. Attempts at recovery will persist until successful. Your lifelong nightmares can be attributed to extraterrestrial trackers making observations and collecting data.”

Allan and Ellie leaned into one another for comfort. The revelation resolved the mysterious aspects of their lives.

Sister added, “And the remnants of a cranial crest.”

“Bingo,” called out Allan, “A doctor told me my sagittal suture was deformed. It did not form properly when a baby. I use it to mark where I part my hair down the middle. If I were to shave my head, it’s more apparent.”

He looked at Ellie. “I felt the same with your head, but never said anything – not wanting to embarrass.”

She replied, “Wow Allan, I part my hair down the middle for the same reason.”

One Twin revealed, “We always thought it was a family trait like webbed toes or club thumbs.”

Sister continued, “Humans have a limbic system, but aliens have additional neuron tissue connecting the two brain hemispheres. It runs along the top of the brain, hence the crest in the skull for room. As you can see with me, it actually extends into my forehead. A peek inside your skulls would reveal a similar less prominent connection.”

Everyone fingered each other’s skulls and foreheads as they compared and contrasted anatomy.

“I feel left out,” Red joked.

“Red,” Jake said, “No one here has your beautiful red hair or blue eyes.”

Sister continued. “As the person I once was, my alien genetic predisposition, human inclination for music and sound, and the quantum waveforms emanating from the portal led us to the wormhole and the gold. I heard the mountains sing. I became entangled with the wave particles spilling into and out the portal from our other alien home planet.”

Jake put another paranormal twist to events. “Dear Red,” he said, “my brother and I, were born in 1858.”

“Oh sweet Jesus,” cried Red. “I married an ancient alien.”

“My brother and I speculate our wormhole travels and excursions reversed or slowed the aging process. Once our longevity became apparent, we named our descendants, Jake for the males and Sarah for the females – always a birth certificate in the same name. The ongoing names help elude the truth of our unusual situation – legal documents, titles, deeds, wills, and identification.”

“My brothers,” said Sister, “your longevity is attributed to your alien genes not your cosmic journeys. You will have extended life spans assuming you are not victims of an accident.”

“Lucky us,” remarked Cousin.

“Ellie and I will live extra-long lives!”

“Yes, my species live longer life spans. Breeders do not mature until their thirties.”

“Well shit,” exclaimed Allan looking at Ellie, “that explains some weirdness in our lives.”

Sister redirected her remarks to the young couple. “You possess superior cognitive abilities. You assimilate and process information at accelerated rates. Your alien cognitive abilities and human emotions will blend to create an enhanced consciousness. Two hybrid humans have never mated.”

“Tell us more about our indigenous ancestry,” asked Allan.

Sarah paused for a breath. Chairs and moving bodies drew closer to the alien storyteller. “Yah… Tell us.”

“The evolution of the humanoid blueprint on your planet Earth is unique and intriguing. The humanoid configuration exists and repeats throughout the physical universes. The classical laws of nature and evolution exclusively engineered the humanoid creature to function as a manipulator of a three-dimensional plus time universe. Humanoids can now use science and technology to create or replicate life. True in some places, not everywhere, Earth is a newcomer to the process.”

Cousin said, “We are not alone.”

Jake said, “And rookies at the game.”

Sis continued, “For millions of years, nebular debris and cosmic gas-dust survived as ever-enduring microorganisms, microbes, or spores of DNA components – the parts of life. Scattered through the cosmos on solar winds or comets, these life-bearing ingredients bombarded planets sowing them with the genetic seeds of information. The evolution of a particular species stands unique to its environment or planet – a deciding factor in its operational outcome.”

“So maybe humans on Earth our special after all,” said Red.

Sarah paused for a sip of cider, “Humanoids use fingers, thumbs, or digits on two free-moving arms or appendages to build and assemble machines. At least two free-moving legs or appendages are necessary to move and gather environmental resources. The five human senses are essential for physical manipulation of the perceived physical environment. Humanoid life forms are symmetrical as demonstrated in two eyes and ears spatially balanced or one nose or mouth centered. Large evolved brains facilitate advanced consciousness and cognition or greater intellects. Engineering and manufacturing require cooperation among individuals and demands a means of communication such as language or telepathic exchanges. The evolutionary processes of the physical universes are simple, efficient, and balanced. Nothing is wasted. The humanoid design was inevitable. Other life forms exist, but are limited in what they can achieve. The operational reality of this scenario or arrangement exists in forward linear time in three dimensions of a total of eleven.”

Allan marveled, “Thousands of years of evolution in twenty seconds.”

Sister qualified, “Longer – millions.”

She then said, “My civilization desires the primitive components of your brains that distinguish your species. Your biologists named it the limbic system, or old mammalian brain, the center of emotion. It is where experiences and emotional memories are processed, stored, and creates a special emotional human intelligence. On other humanoid planets, we are creatures of cognition incapable of feelings because we lack the similar brain parts.”

Ellie asked, “Why are human brain parts so important?”

“In a three dimensional plus time world, emotions inspire or motivate innovation or creative endeavors that cannot be calculated, predicted, or controlled. Humanoid cognition fears human ingenuity. Evolutionary trends suggest human-type actions will eventually dominate and decimate other humanoids. You must be studied, replicated in hybrid forms, controlled, and then eradicated.”

Jake said, “The war for survival exists on so many levels.”

Sister responded in a reassuring tone. “The struggle for survival due to consumption exists in many three dimensions plus forward time realities, not so elsewhere in the Multiverse. Be hopeful for better times.”

Allan jumped to his feet to shake out his body. “Wow, what a week… We live in a Multiverse of extraterrestrials and humanoids. Aliens want to kill humans and we got wormholes! More about your parallel worlds and wormholes.”

Eager Cousin disclosed, “Like stepping into a maze of tubes and tunnels going off in every direction – Like a cosmic ant village. Our portal opens and closes like an organic living tube, expanding and collapsing. Gravity and light of the moon influence the wormhole’s aperture. We know the portal expands at full moon and shuts tight with a dark moon. The phase and time of day determine its orifice. You can easily get lost and never return. The deeper or greater the distance a person travels from the entrance, the more different the worlds become. Stay close to the original portal, and the universes remain similar. We visited parallel Earths where famous and infamous events and people existed or did not exist.”

Jake stood to tell his story. “The nearby worlds we access are about the same time and date. We suspect, based on prior excursions, time travel exists further down the wormholes. Too distant for our musings and safety, but not for our children and relatives who disappeared and perished seeking fame, fortune, and adventure.”

He paused for a moment of grief, but brightened up.

Sister confirmed, “My brothers, your observations are correct. Since wormholes, dimensions, and multiple universes are uncommon to you, I should clarify specifics that pertain to travel and access.”

“Oh, how’s that Sis?”

“Your experiences in the mine portal remain exclusive to what I describe as organic wormholes. These portals or wormholes occur naturally and access arbitrary locations. Two natural portals exist on Earth, your Colorado mountain property and a location in the Himalayan Mountains of Tibet. The Asian portal experienced a flurry of human activity during prehistory, but now exists as a closely guarded secret by cloistered monks. Your mine portal was previously hidden and undiscovered until your diggings. Understand this – advanced scientific civilizations have developed technically induced wormholes in the time-space continuum. Travel to parallel universes through the Multiverse becomes possible as a mode of transportation. This capability, available for thousands of years, evolved before modern humans walked. Consider human civilization and the spread of culture and trade across your planet. All are dependent on evolving modes of transportation from camels and horses to ships and trains to airplanes. Therefore, the same happened when science invented technically induced wormholes. Travel to all places in a Multiverse and the question of reality becomes nebulous.”

Cousin said, “My winter home might challenge your sense of reality.” He looked at Red to say, “One more surprise or lie to correct.”

Jake added, “Please understand, everyone who knows, those we revealed our secret to, died early or tragic deaths.”

“Maybe I should leave the room,” said Red. “I’m the only real human here who’s sane and not being chased.” She walked out and returned. “I’m curious.”

Allan inquired, “What happened?”

Cousin said, “A mixed bag of outcomes, gift or burden, I am unsure to this day…”

Jake continued, “Lament or celebrate, our enduring love-hate saga. Beyond the portal, lie infinite universes, boundless knowledge, and unimaginable power. Too much for a human mind accustomed to a three-dimensional world and time restraints. Our offspring overwhelmed by infinite possibilities perished through ignorance, greed, and insanity on this Earth or others. They may still wander lost in wormholes or trapped in other worlds. We take responsibility for our actions, blame ourselves, and assume the quilt.”

Jake took a deep breath and after glancing at Cousin continued. “We have a very extra special interest down the hole. There exists a pristine immaculate similar parallel world unblemished-unsoiled by humans – another Earth where humans never evolved or lived – a planet of animals, plants, and land touched by nature’s hand alone.”

Allan said, “So your mine is a portal to the Multiverse and another parallel Earth all to yourselves?”

Both brothers shook their heads yes and then no. “We share the place with its remarkable inhabitants – the animals.”

“Such a whimsical world you brothers spin,” said Allan.

“I need refuge,” reminded Sister.

Ellie asked, “Might we take a peek at your wormhole – at your other Earth?”

“I’m game,” said Red.

Jake and Cousin sat silent staring in each other’s eyes. Cousin rose from his chair, walked to a kitchen cabinet, removed a bottle of Jack Daniels and returned to the table. After a gulp, he passed the bottle to his twin who did the same.

The others watched quietly until Red whispered, “Communion for the Simms twins… More apple cider anyone?”

Jake removed a cigarette container from his shirt pocket, lit a doobie, took a deep hit and passed the joint to his brother who did the same.

Cousin smiled at Ellie and Allan. “You guys are too young.”

Red filled cups as conversation awaited.

Eventually Cousin said, “Damn you Jake, here we go again – that’s what I want to say, but this time is so different, and that’s why you’re right about telling and sharing.”

“What do ya mean, Bro?”

“Look around this table. We have a gathering of humanoids instilled with the cosmic matter of the Multiverse – a unique gathering in time. Coincidence? Our secret, the wormhole may become significant. Someday, sooner or later, we will die and we don’t know what to do with the damn hole.”

In a meandering sequential attempt, the brothers detailed their early beginnings to the present and shared personal recollections.

“Definitely the stuff of science fiction,” Allan said.

Jake chuckled, “Definitely the stuff of non-fiction if one is living it. Steam power provided the energy in our time. The lack of science and the era suggested our mine was magical or sinister. Slowly we sorted out and figured we were accessing similar but different Earths. By luck, we learned to return to our original home world. We stumbled upon Paradise in 1897. When Einstein started publishing, we follow the evolution of physics and math to quantum mechanics and to the Multiverse, we accidentally discovered. We envisioned creating a compassionate and content world – a more obliging and kinder version of humanity. We failed.”

“And gave up,” Cousin confided. “We considered dying, leaving the portal a secret – just blow up the entrance. Distrustful of governments, corporations, religion, and science, we didn’t know what to do with the damn portal. And quite suddenly three strangers, who happened to be non-human stumble into our lives. And lo-and-behold, we ain’t human ourselves. We’re all freaks… The truth is stranger than fiction.”

“Hey my brother, it doesn’t matter considering how weird our lives were already.”

“Yeah, you’re right.” Cousin eyes opened wide. “So ya wanna take a trip down a mine shaft to another world we call Paradise?”

 

Chapter 24 – Wentworth

Marshall Wentworth was working at his D.C. desk when an email alert arrived. After several minutes of typing, saving, and forwarding. The investigator picked up the phone.

“Doctor Brewer, this is Marshall Wentworth. I got a tip on the blood sample we’re trying to locate. The information comes from Idaho Springs, Colorado. A burglary at a tourist spot left a pool of blood with similar markers. I got us booked tomorrow at Washington Dulles, American Airlines midnight departure. I’ll follow up with an email and itinerary.”

“Thanks for the alert Marshall.”

“Doc, before a red eye flight, you’ll find me in the airport lounge relaxing. Good bye Brewer.”

Anjawon descended a flight of stairs from the concourse to a lower level with restrooms and Limburg’s Bar and Grill. At the back of the dim lounge, he noticed Wentworth at a booth. An overhead spot lit his table laid out with a tablet, a phone, and plate containing a steak and a baked potato accompanied by a mug of beer and an empty shot glass.

“Good Evening Doc, let me buy you a drink and some eats.”

“Thank you Marshall.”

“Merlot,” said Anjawon to an approaching waitress.

“You know… On these red eye trips, I eat a snack and sedate myself for the flight.”

Anjawon remained silent and sipped wine as Wentworth ate.

The Marshall peaked at his mobile and frowned. “Damn you.” Wentworth interrupted his meal to text. After a swig of beer, he raised his shot glass to the air to signal the bartender. He glanced at his mobile and repeated, “Damn you.”

Wentworth’s pending inebriation caused the Doctor to question. “Marshal, may I ask? Who you’re damning there?”

“My daughter-in-law – actually my son who doesn’t talk to me. She’s the go-between. My son hates me since his mother’s death. My wife died when I was overseas. We were getting divorced anyway. You can fill in the pieces.”

The server arrived with another shot and down it went.

“You okay Marshall?”

“I am.” Wentworth wiped his mouth with a napkin and pushed his plate away. “No, I’m not Doctor Brewer. Since you’re the resident blood specialist – Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. You must be familiar with the disease. All those rabid B-cells know about me and know about my son and my grandson.” Wentworth finished his beer and slouched into the booth. “It’s my entire fucking fault if you ask my son… Everything sucks because of me.”

“Marshall, the disease progresses slowly in most cases. Most people live active normal lives for decades. Look at you.”

“I’m a slow onset. Not the same for others, cancer gets worse as it is passed down. Doc, you got a pill, or a vaccine, or a miracle cure to fix my genes – how about a kick in the ass or the balls? Would that help? Would that solve my problems?”

Doc Brewer emptied his glass and swished the beverage around in his mouth before a swallow. “Marshall, just so you know. If we were to locate a unique blood type with promising applications, it would be years before it becomes available to the general public.”

“Ha,” honked Wentworth, “I’m not general, Brewer. I’m special, a VIP Marshall on special assignment – a matter of national security.”

 

Chapter 25 – Paradise Park

Cousin unlocked the entrance to the mine and relocked the gate once all were inside. A flip of a switch lit a string of lights and rails extending into a smooth bore tunnel. Fifty feet in, they stood before a chain and sign reading DANGER DO NOT ENTER.

Cousin warned, “Unfortunately, our secret requires a security measure for the uninvited. Here lies a vertical mine shaft filled with water. To the informed, the flooded shaft is a puddle of water – actually a twenty-five-foot drop. Notice these thick floor planks we pulled across for easy access.”

Another fifty feet the excavation end and Jake announced, “We are here.”

Ellie twisted her head as if trying to locate a sound. “I can’t tell what, but wavy noises fill the area.”

Allan cupped his hands to his ears. “I hear nothing.”

Red said, “I’m shivering.”

Sister’s flat palms sampled the surroundings. “Cosmic wave-particles radiate.”

Jake pointed to the back of the tunnel and a steel door hidden in the dark confines. “Reach down to the hand hollows; pull up hard.” The brothers stooped and counted, “One, two, three, lift.”

Slowly the barrier, like a garage door, swung up and lifted off the ground. A soft purple light crept from the rising barricade exposing a breathing oscillating tunnel that squirmed like a worm and hummed like an ocean wave. The illusionary gateway played tricks on their eyes and challenged senses.

Cousin introduced the phenomena. “Welcome to the Multiverse. Sometimes we call this place the God Hole.”

Jake informed, “Our timing is ideal; the moon is almost full.”

Allan stretched his arms before the vortex. “It’s truly real.”

“It moves. It’s alive!” said Ellie who moved next to Allan.

Sister stepped behind the amazed couple to say, “A spacetime phenomenon.”

Lost for words, a teary Red stared with mouth open.

Cousin directed. “I’ll go first, Sister next, then Allan, Ellie, Red in the middle. Jake brings up the rear. As we walk, I count. Please do not interrupt me or talk as we may get lost. I am counting the portals we pass.”

The cosmic adventurers passed numerous respiring portal orifices sucking, pulling, and spewing cosmic specs of illuminated debris. After a couple of minutes, Allan and Ellie distinguished a dot of dim light in the distance. The luminous spot increased in size as they approached. The soft purple glow of the wormhole faded as they entered the bore of a mineshaft. The light of a different world greeted.

“I’ve stopped counting; we can talk now.”

They stepped out of the mountain. Allan, Ellie, and Sister remained quite as, their eyes and minds adjusted to the new surroundings – a cabin with outbuildings – very similar to the other side of the portal.

Ellie circled and scanned the area. “Looks almost the same… Cabin… Buildings, but something is different.”

“Yes Ellie,” Jake said. “We built the same on an identical location, but on a duplicate pristine earth.”

Allan surveyed the area. “The trees are different?”

“Yes,” Cousin explained, “on our Earth the miners clear cut the old native pine so during the 1930s the Forest Service planted quick growing Spruce to stop the erosion and restore the woodland. You’re looking at the original species put here by nature and never removed by man.”

Jake spread his arms apart. “Gaze out at the landscape, check out the glacier, tons more snow – no global warming. Examine the green mountainsides – no beetle and drought damage. Gone – missing are the mine tailings, roads, traffic, houses, telephone-electric poles, noisy jets, and chemtrails.”

“Welcomed to Paradise friends, boys and girls,” exclaimed Cousin

The exuberant newcomer’s spirits exploded. Ellie, Sister, Red, and Allan frolicked in the virgin landscape. Contagious, the Twins cavorted as if seeing the place for the first. A spontaneous Ellie sang out, “We got the whole wide world in our hands.” The group settled to the ground to savor a patchwork of flowers and mushrooms. They giggled themselves out of breath.

Ellie lifted her head and said, “Animals… Deer, around us and watching.”

Cousin whispered, “No fear of humans, they know us as gentle and harmless. We do not eat our neighbors. We share this dazzling meadow with them… Oh, let me get the boom box.” He left for the cabin and returned with an old battered tape player. He set the machine on a tree stump and pushed play. Out sounded, Pachelbel’s Canon. “They enjoy this… The music gathers them.”

At the perimeter, furry creatures meandered closer. After some curious scent sniffing, the deer and elk reclined throughout the pasture. The chipmunks and squirrels scurried over their legs and laps, taking particular interest in the contents of their packs. Rabbits hopped about. More astonishing, over time, the carnivorous competitors – foxes, coyotes, wolves, cats, and bears settled into their own scattered spots in the forest borders.

“Here come the horses… Native to North America by the way, not Spanish domesticated.”

Birdsong filled the air. A gathering of hummingbirds sought out the bright colors. Sister, in an orange baseball hat, exhibited a halo of hummers hovering around her head. The curious ravens picked at the gear and squawked.

Amused by the spectacle, Allan inquired, “How can such an assortment of animals gather in peace?”

Cousin sat on the ground with his knees tucked in. A critter tugged at his shoelace; a little chirping sparrow perched on his hat. “Paradise is a plentiful world, abundant in all things. Competition is minimal and fear is relevant to a particular moment – like a survival hunt for food. Conditioned by nature, and not humankind, they take only what they need. As humans evolved into a society of cognitive individuals, so have these creatures developed. These animals have never been hunted for trophy, human consumption, or in numbers to decimate a generation. The intelligent and assertive pass on acquired working knowledge, enhanced instinct, and favored genes. These creatures, left alone to their own interests have evolved into beings of greater cognition or understanding. They may not be abstract thinkers who read or write books – at least for now. However, they are enriched concrete operators who are self-aware and comprehend the workings of their environment and anticipate events.”

“A self-aware animal,” Ellie amazed, “puts a new twist on things.”

Nodding at the brothers, Allan said, “Thank you for sharing your home this Paradise with us.”

Cousin responded, “Oh, this is only the portal side, home is down the river valley. Recall the Indian Hot Springs Resort in Idaho Springs?”

“Sure,” said Ellie, “Allan and I sat in a hot tub staring at the stars.”

“The same parallel spring thrives in this world as nature created it. We built a lodge close by. We always have hot running water, heat for a cozy winter, greenhouse, and a great place for a soak. We started building about 1925. Over the years, our sons, daughters, and decedents participated with construction, a lot of memories.”

Jake sighed, “Maybe too many.”

Allan looked at Jake. “How is it you spend your time in Idaho Springs and not here?”

“Why all the lies husband?” asked Red. “How do I fit into the scheme of things?”

“Well…” Jake stalled for words. “Eventually the mysteries of the portal and its universes revealed themselves – partially at least. We discovered Paradise and its natural splendor and blended the two worlds into one reality. Paradise became a second home, a vacation spot, and a source of income from mineral. Through the years, our descendants played with the wormhole. Unfortunately, the other domains down the hole served as a means for riches, power, and pleasure – temptations galore. Our unfortunate children, due to our own ignorance, disappeared, self-destructed, or fell prey to the enticements of neighboring realms. Wherever they perished, we became bitter and resentful. My brother and I blamed each other, our spouses, fate, God – anything convenient at the time. Paradise became hell, and I retreated to a reality I better understood – in Idaho Springs in exile – waiting for death or something.”

He looked at Red. “I’m sorry dear, you just happen to come along at the right time. I needed a baby-sitter.”

“How many times have you been married?” Red asked.

“Too many, eight, but all have passed on… except you.”

The momentum switched to Cousin. “I shared the same life experiences, tragedies, and emotions as my children met a similar fate. I chose Paradise as a sanctuary – selective isolation from human kind. Humanity embarrasses me with all the remnant territorial and predatory programming left over from our primordial days.”

“Then you hate yourself,” taunted his sibling.

“Yeah, yeah, but we’re cut from the same die, Bro.”

From behind, a stallion approached Cousin and gave him a nudge to the head with its snout. “My friend the big guy – his name is Horsey – expects a cube of sugar for a ride down to the lodge – the routine around here.” The Twin addressed his brother. “Since we come this far, a horseback ride to the lodge is in order. Don’t ya think?”

“Let’s go for a ride,” said Jake, who walked over to ring a hanging bell whose clanking gathered a group of co-operative horses.

“Our rides.” Cousin asked Ellie, and Allan, “Ever ride a horse bareback?”

“Bareback! We’re city folk. We’ve only see horses on TV and the movies.”

“I remember my mule and horse,” said Sister.

“Sis,” replied Jake, “If I remember correctly, you were quite the equestrian.”

Red said, “I grew up a farm girl in Iowa. It’s been awhile.”

As each horse approached, the brothers attached a neck tether and offered a sugar cube.

“The horses know the destination and will follow a very well-worn wagon trail, so hold on with your legs and balance. If they trot too fast, pull back and say whoa. If that doesn’t work, lean in and grab on to their necks.”

At first, the timid novice riders sounded several requests to maintain an easy pace. The horses, understanding their apprehension, obliged. After they passed through several mountain switchbacks, the route opened to a softer straighter path. The horses gradually broke into a gallop and ignored commands. Once Allan and Ellie realized the equines possessed minds of their own, they leaned into the mounts and hung on with screams of delight.

The valley trail finally leveled out. The knowledgeable horses abruptly broke pace and came to rest at a stream-filled pond for a rest and a drink.

A dismounted Jake called, “Come to the stream and check this out.”

Allan scoped the water using his palm to block the glare, “Lots of swimming fish”

Ellie scrutinized the waters, “A lot of yellow – gold?”

“Right you both are – plenty of fish and gold nuggets for the picking.”

Cousin joked, “In this world the fish are more valuable than the gold – can’t eat gold. Gold is just a pretty rock. As we travel to the lodge, you’ll find the streams abound with minerals and fish.”

The horseback adventurers wound down Fall River Valley until the waters merged with the Clear Creek River basin. Steam and vapor lifted from the ground and ascended to the sky. Ancient groves of Aspen trees blanketed the area. Lush colorful foliage thrived in the tropical temperatures. Once upon the hot springs, bubbling pools and meandering streams dominated the landscape. Bird and animals inhabited the paradise.

“We are not home yet,” alerted Cousin, “this is the front yard. We’re down farther where the water cools for a fish pond – fish off the porch.”

The horses stopped at an arched gateway labeled Paradise Park.

The lodge stood before them. Cousin chirped, “Giddy-up Horsy.”

A log and stone structure of large proportions stood before them.

“Now I understand why you call it a lodge and not a cabin, it’s a wilderness castle.”

Cousin recounted the construction history. “We finished in 1947 but the house remains an on-going project. Tools, hardware, and building supplies, we brought in from the other side. We made and baked the clay roof tiles right here.”

The house consisted of two main stories and balconies. A covered porch wrapped part of the house and a deck bordered a fishpond.

Fifty yards off site, a large simple barn stood and surrounded by assortment solar panels and windmills perched on the hillside.

Neighborhood critters escorted them to the front door.

“Just slip off the horse’s gear, award a sugar cube, a pat, and they’ll be on their way. If you ever need a ride, bang on the hanging bell for shuttle service to the portal.”

Inside the lodge, a wood decor prevailed accented by bronze lighting fixtures and hardware. Off center, a stairway ascended up. A rock fireplace dominated the main room. Appliances and fixtures of the 1930s bedecked the kitchen – bathrooms the same.

Cousin opened windows; the breeze of green air permeated. “Ah, the scent of our neighborhood…”

“Tick-tock, tick-tock,” Red shouted. “Time marches on. Reality check, my humanoid friends. Some of us have morning chores tomorrow. I work the store at the Senior Center. Jake and Cousin, since you’re both together for once, you made an appointment with the lawyer to sign tax documents you haven’t filed in two years. Remember? We need to get back. The Multiverse can wait another day.”

Jake smiled, “Our other reality calls.”

“And our new found Sister?” Cousin asked.

Red advised, “Sister can hide out with our other run-a-ways.”

“There’s room in the carriage house,” said Ellie, “another bedroom.”

“Yeah,” said Allan, “and high speed Internet, a desktop computer, a big screen, a big fenced yard with animal body guards. A great hideout.”

Ellie added, “Rooming with an extraterrestrial who’s a distant relative would be fun.”

Sister spoke, “Thank you for the invitation. Realize we are all fugitives.” She addressed the Twins. “My Brothers, your intervention, returns you to jeopardy. All of us must understand the rules for engagement. All interactions with humans on Earth are covert so we will never be confronted in a crowd. Witnesses to an encounter mysteriously disappear – actually disintegrate. They will attempt live retrieval with incapacitating stun weapons. They will not kill us intentionally… except for the Twins who will be terminated. Unfortunately, the more of us in one locale, the easier we are to track and locate.”

“Scary,” said Red, “doomed to a life of hell.”

“They have limitations,” informed Sister. “Physically and mentally, most workers or retrievers are of minimal stature, operate within designated parameters, and engineered for a specific purpose or mission – unless we run into their combat models engineered for strength and size.”

“Screw the alien bastards,” shouted Cousin, “we’ll switch universes and ET will lose track and forget about us.”

“Hey,” Jake suggested, “we’ll return, take care of business, pack for a long vacation, and then run off to Paradise. We’ll get the Kids out of town ASAP.”

Allan said, “By kids, you must mean us.”

“I do. Can you hide and hang out for a couple of days in the carriage house? We’re caught unprepared for the moment.”

Cousin apologized. “My fault, my lazy ass – power is failing at the lodge and the portals. I should have replaced the batteries last year. We need to drive into Denver to buy new ones and a load of bulk supplies. We still rely on old Earth for a few essentials and supplemental foodstuffs. I had seven years stored, but Jake stopped helping with the chores.”

Jake said, “Accept my apology Bro; I’m helping out now. How about I bring Red to work and meet with the lawyer, and shop in Denver. Why don’t you guys hide in Paradise to confuse the aliens then cross back over to get your stuff and return with the supplies?”

The next morning placed Red asleep at home and Jake driving into Denver to meet a lawyer and shop. About 8:00 AM, a van labeled Economy Carpet Cleaners parked in front of the Simms house. Two men wearing coveralls, baseball caps, and sunglasses rang the doorbell and then removed equipment from the vehicle and proceeded to the rear basement entrance. One man waited while the other broke the lock on the outdoor electrical box, fiddled with wires, and did the same with the telephone.

Quickly inside, they removed their sunglasses and donned pull over masks. One thief located Jake’s office to plunder. The other bandit searched the upper floors.

The upstairs robber cased rooms and ransacked draws, cabinets, and closets. The noises startled and woke up Red. Lying in bed for a moment, she gathered her senses. The curious woman scampered to her bedroom door, tiptoed down the hallway, and peaked over the banister. To her shock, a masked intruder pillaged the rooms beneath her. She ran to her room and bolted shut the oak door.

Red grabbed the phone, but found the line dead. She walked into a closet and emerged with a Colt 45 caliber revolver strapped to her waist.

The intruder crept up the third floor staircase. Composed Red loaded six bullets, spun the cylinder, and with a twirl packed the gun to her side and positioned herself in front of the entry. She grounded her legs to the floor, rolled her shoulders, and wiggled her fingers to ease them. The door handle turned; the bolt stopped the opening. Twice the thief put his shoulder to the door, but it did not budge. A loud bang and a cracking of wood signaled to Red the bandit was kicking and busting into the remaining barrier.

For a moment, Red considered a shout or a warning yell. Nevertheless, the arrogance or sheer rudeness of some stranger in her space really pissed her off.

Quick drawing her gun, she fired one round that ripped through the door.

A scream sounded with a thump to the floor. The panic of someone stumbling down two flights of stairs followed.

Red stepped into the hallway. Amid the noise of a ruckus downstairs, she yelled, “I’m coming down there; best be leaving now!”

Red hurried to the balcony window; two men rushed to the van. The fleeing burglars sped away screeching tires. Gun in hand, Red descended to the first floor. She shook her head with a deep sigh. “What a mess.”

She grabbed a cell phone on the kitchen counter and dialed 911. After reporting the incident, she rang Jake and left a message. “I just chased off two scoundrels with my gun. I may have shot one, but he got away. They tore up the house pretty good. We should have brought the pets home. I called 911; I’m fine, love you, later.”

Jake left a message on Cousin’s mobile phone realizing his Twin wouldn’t get the message until he crossed back over. “Bro, I’m calling on Tuesday. We had a home burglary. Come home ASAP.”

Late that day, Red and Jake were sorting through the mess of the break-in when Cousin, Sister, Ellie, and Allan arrived.

Cousin greeted. “Wow, I crossed over to get a picture album from the cabin to show Sister and got your message and rushed home.”

“Someone, two men, burglars broke into the house this morning,” said Red. “I shot one through my bedroom door. We found some blood. The crooks drove off in a van.”

“Did they steal much?”

Jake pointed to the mess of wires and parts on the floor; the smashed monitor. “Nothing except a thumb drive from the computer – guess Red broke up their plans. Someone was interested in the basement safe.”

Cousin coughed to clear his throat. “Valuables I can understand. A thumb drive makes me wonder about their true intentions.”

Allan asked, “How important was the drive?”

“Not much,” Jake gave the broken computer case a kick. “I keep business accounts on paper in the vault. We have over 100 years of family records in journals, ledgers, and dairies. I use that computer for emails and school.”

Red dumped a dustpan of liter into the trash. “The police suggest an intentional break in and not a random act. They thieving jackals shut down the power, bypassed the alarm, and cut phone and cable lines.”

Jake paced across the floor. Full of thought, he peered at his brother who stood with arms crossed. “Do you think the secret is in jeopardy?”

Cousin massaged his forehead. “I don’t know, but we may be in for more trouble. I glad Rom, Rem, and Kat are here.” He looked at Sister, Ellie, and Allan. “Have you Kids figured out our house pets are genetic hybrids from Paradise?”

Jake retrieved several days of mail from the kitchen table. “By the way, check this out. I almost passed it off as nonsense – a letter from a company named Silverstone, a real estate developer, containing an offer to buy the mining properties for a paltry sum.”

Cousin picked up a thick envelope with a return address from the Clear Creek Attorney’s Office. “What’s this about? I hate fat envelopes from lawyers.”

He examined its contents. “Hell or high water! More crap coming our way, Jacob. This second letter is claiming right-of-way access across our property and seizure of our claims for a commercial development project. Some kind of legal morass will supposedly seize our land if we choose not to sell.” The disgruntled brother tossed the troublesome documents. “The timing of the letters is interesting… Coincidental?”

“More fuel to the fire.”

The following morning, Jake and Cousin returned to the mine with a truckload of new storage batteries. Silence – no barking dogs greeted at the gated entrance. The mood changed quickly. Lock and chain snapped. Gate hung open exposing the gruesome sight of dead dogs and the stench of carcasses, the buzz of flies, and fleeing feeding birds.

“Oh God, no” Cousin screamed, followed by a shriek from Jake.

The brothers exited and approached. Cousin moaned, “They deserved better.”

Jake embraced his brother; his lips trembled. “We will mourn and move on… As we have before.”

Cousin’s emotions turned to anger. “Evil lurks.”

The brothers returned to the pickup truck, opened the tailgate, unlocked the toolbox, and removed two lever action rifles, handguns, and ammo belts.

Rifles in hand, gun belts buckled, and ammo belts over shoulders, the grim brothers marched opposite sides of the road uphill. Cautiously clearing the area, one brother advanced while the other covered. The ransacked homestead confirmed suspicions. Doors and windows busted; sheds raided, toolboxes looted, and the cabin torn apart.

The bent and pried steel gate to the mine portal alarmed. “The fuckers emptied the strongbox.”

Jake asked, “How much gold did they snatch?”

“A coffee can full of prime-sized nuggets.”

“I wonder how far they went in.”

“Perhaps too far for their own health, look they didn’t use the light switch. Let’s find out.”

At the plunging shaft, the brothers detected the chain unlatched and laying on the ground.

“Oh shit! A dead body would complicate matters. Let’s turn on the pump, drain the shaft, and hope for no surprise.”

Four hours later, the emptied mineshaft revealed the silhouette of a body.

The Twins stared down at the body. Cousin grumbled, “Our secret, Paradise is in jeopardy.”

They hauled up the physique of younger man – drowned by the weight of boots, a fanny pack, a holstered handgun, and a wallet containing soggy but readable identification.

“What’s in the wallet?”

“Some cash, a picture of someone’s girlfriend, an ID, a paycheck stub, and a business card.”

They examined the identification of Felix Hector, but after scrutiny Cousin said, “This looks like a fake ID bought off the street. Someone is trying to hide or change their identity. A paycheck stub from a company called P.D.I and we have their business card with a telephone number on the back.”

“Let’s fingerprint the guy, take a hair sample, and dig a hole.”

“Just to remind you Cousin, we’re breaking laws; sheriffs like to know about dead bodies.”

“Just to remind you Jake, we can’t take the risk. Too much is at stake to be attracting attention to this site. We’ll have to solve this problem on our own.”

After putting the corpse in the ground, Cousin said, “We need to connect some dots. Let’s try the phone numbers.”

The brothers called P.D.I. An answering machine identified the number as Private Detective Investigations requesting a name and return number, so they hung up promptly. Next, the twins called the written number on the back of the business card.

A female voice answered the call, “Silverstone Real Estate and Development.”

Cousin slammed the phone down. “We’re under attack. We must defend and retaliate.”

“So much for a peaceful existence.”

“It’s not about the Simms. It’s about what we hide and protect.”

 

Chapter 26 – The Trip

I kept hearing. “You ain’t dying yet – Get up! Get up!”

On the ground, I lay and moaned. “I can’t. You hurt me.”

Too much pain to be angry. I wanted mercy and death.

“I don’t want to live – just kill me old man. Fuck you and your book. I don’t care anymore. Kill me. Jody is dead! Why her, a saint who never harmed a soul? A loving woman. You give her to me and you take her away. You’re a fucking jerk.”

I stopped talking to breathe.

Calmer words spoke to me. “Understand you and her exist in other parallel realities.”

A commanding voice, like God or Charlton Heston said, “Understand, if you choose death, it will not be easy.”

I forget what happened next, but found myself inside a cave – inside the wilderness gold mine. I lay on my back staring out the entrance and through rays of light illuminating the dusty air. I hurt too much to move. The silhouette of the Monk appeared at the opening to say. “I’ve laid you to rest so you can die, but you’ll be sharing you grave with blood-sucking varmints.”

The Monk crashed and broke what looked and sounded like glass mason jars to the floor of the cave.

He shouted, “We have an assortment of head and body lice, a colony of blacklegged ticks, and your typical bedbugs. Rest in peace. Grasshopper.”

With those words, my tormentor began to pick-ax and collapse the entrance to the mine – to bury me alive.

“Shit man, are you crazy!”

He laughed.

“Stop it! Stop!” I cried and begged.

Rocks and debris tumbled into the space and darkened the cavern.

“No, don’t bury me alive… With bugs… Not this.”

I screamed, “No!” repeatedly as loud as I could shredding my vocal cords until I could only growl like an animal. Before the remaining trace of sunlight disappeared, The Monk yelled into my earthen sarcophagus. “Hey, Bugboy, if you choose to live, you want out, dig into the mountain – not out. Know you were a waste of my time. Bye.”

No sound for my ears. No light for eyes. Just damp cold dirt and rocks.

The bugs are coming. Kill myself. Bang my head on a rock.

I rested to think and gather my wits.

Don’t go crazy… Don’t go crazy…

I itch.

The bugs are here to eat me.

Panic! I jumped to my feet and gashed my head into the jagged overlay. Knocked to my knees, blood gushed from my scalp, down my face and neck. I slapped at my body to kill the bugs.

Don’t feed the bugs.

I crawled to the back of tunnel to escape the bugs. I cuddled against the hard rock face and whimpered, “Don’t eat me… Don’t suck my blood.

A tiny peep of light! A faint trace of light seeped from a tiny crack. I remembered the Monk’s words. “Dig in… not out.”

On knees and belly, I dug, clawed, scraped with bloody fingers until a purplish light emanated from a hole in the mountain.

A Wormhole!

My peculiar reality collided with my imagination. In the book, I recorded visions of wormholes or timespace abnormalities and a multiverse of humanoids with a cast of characters. Was my mind creating or perceiving? Whether chicken or egg, my imagination was nothing to fear.

I broke though and continued crawling until the portal allowed me to stand. The anomalous passageway squirmed like a worm – just as I imagined and put to paper.

Before me stretched an infinite number of simmering portals and avenues that meandered in a black empty cosmic nothingness.

The psychedelic imagery amazed and flashed me to a mushroom harvest and a trippy summer a few years ago. An extreme hot, wet, and humid summer created ideal conditions and the large white-spotted red toadstools popped up everywhere.

One mushroom trip, I observed my head explode in a mirror. Be cool. It’s the shrooms.

While peeing in the toilet, I accidently flush myself down the bowl and into the sewer. Much of that summer, Cody and I stuck to the cover of the forest and stayed off the tundra and mountaintops. Drones and satellites tracked our movements. I suspected, not government agents, but corporate interests such as Google, Amazon, and Walmart were after us.

In my newly discovered unearthed wormhole, my body experienced no pain – suspended and weightless. Moving my feet along the squirming surface, felt like repelling magnets, and the same sensation when my hands touched the oscillating tubular sides. I played and savored the experience causally spinning, tumbling, and cartwheeling in this semi-gravity environment. Suspended in time or space. I drifted – for how long or far, I do not know or maybe irrelevant now.

Am I dead? Is this forever? Is this Heaven or Hell? Where do I go?

I was wondering if the Monk killed me and the bugs ate me when the noise of barking dogs sounded from a passing portal. I stopped to investigate. The image of two dogs appeared down the tunnel. Cody and Lucy were calling me!

“Cody, Lucy, I’m coming guys.”

Jumping animals and sloppy dog kisses put me on the ground where we rolled and frolicked. Their soft hairy bodies warmed my body and lifted my spirits. After our furry reunion, we followed the wormhole portal until a stone gateway loomed before us. The quiet and unguarded entrance smelled green and tingled with chimes. A peaceful welcome for a trio of visiting Earth mammals. Stepping out of the vestibule, a maze of corridors extended.

“Where are we? Which way to go?”

Lucy led and Cody and I followed – my destiny in the paws of a dog.

We followed her into a complex of hallways until arriving at an open door and entered a room. A breeze blew the door shut.

We stood in a small bleak room with a large square barred hole for window. The view outside placed me high in elevation and in the peaks. Stretching my neck for a view, I discovered my roost to be a cliff dwelling carved inside a mountain. From one wall, water trickled into a floor drain and on the opposite side a fire pit and chimney. Two chiseled stones created a table and chair. I found straw floor mats and cushions, coarse wool blankets, clay jugs, and oil lamps. A wood box sat on the table containing parchment, ink, and a quill pen.

 

Chapter 27 – Pursuit

In the city house, everyone gathered for a meeting and an evening meal around the dining table.

Jake said, “Okay here’s the plan. D Day –Tomorrow, we leave for Paradise. We’ll be renting out the carriage house to a married couple – graduate students from Argentina, named Vito and Benita Ramos who attend Colorado Schools of Mines. They’ll live rent-free for collecting the mail, maintaining the property, and watching over the big house. Jake and I will leave early with the last load of supplies and then return for you guys and the animals.”

Red said, “We must run to the Foodmart for spices, condiments, and baking supplies if you want me to cook and bake in Paradise, and stop at the Senior Center for my recipe box and tell folks goodbye. We don’t want our friends filing missing person reports on us.”

Jake said, “Tell them we’re going to Europe for a vacation.”

Ellie said, “And Allan and I are off at college.”

“Also, trip to the hardware store for bolts, nuts, screws, and nails, said Cousin.” He handed Allan a list. “How about you four shop tomorrow morning? Take the Willy’s Jeepster.”

The next morning started with a misbehaving climate dumping rain and hail. Afterwards the atmosphere remained dark alerting more extreme weather to follow. Chores got off to a late start.

Newly arrived Marshall Wentworth and Dr. Brewer assembled in the County Sheriff’s office joined by the Police Chief of Idaho Springs. Wentworth skipped handshakes, small talk and presented his warrants.

Sheriff Kimball examined the documents and handed it to Chief Wallers. “You want us to locate and arrest Allan Doe and Eleanor Rios with these warrants?”

“Yes, sheriff.” Wentworth’s sudden appearance and haughty manner played poorly in a small town.

Chief Wallers took a deep breath. “Marshall you have a Search and Seizure Warrant from the District of Columbia for blood samples and body fluids. So the Federal Government can search and seize our bodies. I didn’t know that. And an arrest warrant for juvenile delinquency listing runaway minor, truancy, fraud, burglary, criminal trespass, and disorderly conduct.”

Sheriff Kimball added, “The case numbers on these warrants don’t show on my computer data base. What’s that about, Marshall?”

Wentworth frowned, “Just a technicality Sheriff. My warrants are legit.”

“Right now, your warrants are bogus in the State of Colorado and our jurisdictions. I can’t honor them until verification.”

Wentworth pulled and flashed his government ID and badge. “Good enough for you indigenous bumpkins?”

Puzzled local law officers wondered how Wentworth rose through the ranks with ill manners and disregard for procedures. The local lawmen remained unaffected.

The sheriff tried to oblige. “Marshall, I am inclined to offer you a cup of coffee out of courtesy. However, you are not hassling or arresting anyone in our jurisdiction unless you come up with something better. You are welcome to use my office. Call and send, or fax more appropriate documents.”

Chief Wallers offered with a smile, “I’ll get you settled in a fine motel if you care to spend a night.”

Additional arrogance emerged from Wentworth; he snatched his warrants from the sheriff’s grasp. “So be it gentlemen, consider yourselves cannon fodder for my report.”

Dr. Brewer remained silent and disturbed by the Marshal’s insolent demeanor. Wentworth strutted out the office, slamming the door behind him.

The sheriff disinfected his hands with a wipette. “G-men we can do without.”

Outside, Wentworth preached to Brewer. “I don’t require their help. Follow me and watch how easy this can be.”

The Marshal crossed the street to the grocery store. He selected a pack of gum at the register while sizing up the cashier and her nametag. He greeted in a pleasant tone. “Hello Angie, my name is David. I’m looking for my nephew Allan and his girlfriend Ellie. I’ve seemed to misplace their address and telephone number. They’re expecting me this afternoon. A quaint community like this, Allan and Ellie has surely shopped here and must be familiar faces. Might you advise where they live?”

Angie’s life consisted of raising three kids and standing at a cash register since high school. Plump and in need of dental care, she knew everyone’s business.

“Yah I do. They used to live in a trailer park, but moved to the other side of town. Ellie and Allen work at the Senior Center. Check over there at the west end of Miner Street. Can’t miss it.”

After grocery shopping, Ellie, Red, Sister, and Allan arrived at the Senior Center during lunch to bid farewell. Sister tagged along wearing a baseball hat, a wig, and sunglass for her first social encounter. The parting travelers circulated the dining hall exchanging hugs and regards.

Wide-eyed Sister, the stranger in the crowd, tugged on Allan’s shirtsleeve to leave – too much social input for the inexperienced extraterrestrial.

Allan understood and suggested, “How about Sis and I leave for the hardware store so you two can hang out longer?”

Since Red drove, she reminded in a parental tone. “Young man, you are driving without a license. Go slow; be careful.”

Allan followed Red’s advice and proceeded with caution to the store. As they perused the aisles, Sister stopped with a troubled face.

“Allan, I sense something wrong. Ellie is in danger. Do you feel the same?”

“Ah…”

She blocked the path of his cart. Her eyes conveyed fear. “Return to the center now!”

Before a word left his mouth, Sister bolted for the door with Allan in quick pursuit.

A black Chevy Suburban with government plates parked in the handicapped zone at the Senior Center. Wentworth and Brewer entered and followed the noise from the crowd to the dining room. Ellie, with Red at her side, stood among the tables gabbing with friends, the two obvious from the seated seniors.

“Eleanor Rios,” bellowed the Marshal as he directed his attention to the standing two.

Without turning, Ellie responded in a nonchalant tone, “Yes.”

That was all Wentworth needed to justify his actions. He dashed through the congregation pushing chairs and seniors out of the way.

“Eleanor Rios, you are under arrest.”

Like a snare snagging its victim, he snapped a cuff to her wrist.

Red screamed, “Who the hell are you?”

“Federal Marshall Wentworth,” he flashed his badge. “Come with me now.”

“Wait a minute,” Red hollered as she grabbed his arm trying to stop him. Wentworth pushed her away, crashing her into a tabletop. Red sprung forward and heaved a heavy slap to the brute’s face.

The indignant marshal snarled, “Interference with police action. We’ll take you along too,” and cuffed her. Ellie broke into tears, but Red was not going anywhere. The petite audacious woman jumped the back of the linebacker-sized marshal. Red choked his neck with one arm and flailed on his head with the other fist.

“Resisting arrest,” Wentworth pulled her off and dragged his captives through the dining room. He kicked tables and chairs to make a path, ignoring the seniors he scattered.

“Marshal Wentworth!” Admonished Brewster, “this is not necessary. They are not criminals.”

“Boy, don’t argue with me in front of the town peons – national security foremost.”

“National security doesn’t warrant brutality against innocent citizens.”

Red had exhausted the strength she possessed. Ellie supported the spent woman as Wentworth pushed-pulled them out the entrance to the vehicle. Brewer walked backwards in front of the Wentworth trying to break his rushing pace.

“You sick bastard of a lawman – you got me and a hundred witnesses who will expose your asinine tactics.”

Wentworth commanded, “Open the car door or do I have to throw them through the window.”

Brewster noticed Red bleeding from the nose. “Wait!”

“Stop it. Stop it,” Ellie shouted, “You’re killing her!”

Down the street, a hundred feet away, Allan screeched to a halt at the sight of the disturbing street commotion. Sister jumped from the Jeep and sprinted to the turmoil.

Allan gunned the engine. He dumped the clutch – squealing and smoking the tires, he swerved and broadsided the driver side of the SUV.

The deafening slam interrupted Wentworth’s rampage, “What the…”

A split second after, Sister arrived and lounged at the Marshal. Clamping her hands on his neck and choking him of breath, she shoved his unbalanced over-sized body through a plate glass window. Backwards the oaf tumbled.

“Jump in!” Allan yelled.

A patch of rubber and smoke, the Jeep sped away in a spectacular getaway.

The humiliated Wentworth rose to his feet like the fictional unrelenting Terminator. To Brewster he sneered, “You with me or against me?”

The Doctor shook his head no. “I don’t work with thugs.”

On Main Street, Allan spied the approaching sheriff’s squad car with lights flashing. He checked his rear view mirror. More flashing lights and a siren, the black Chevy Suburban pursued.

Sister sprung to her feet and hung on to the roll bar to survey the ground. “I remember living in this area. Turn left at the next corner. Take Virginia Canyon Road up the mountain to the gold fields. We can cross over Yankee Hill to the family mine.”

Red said, “Today they call the canyon road, Oh My God Road.”

“Why?”

“No guard rails, sharp switchbacks – rolling off the dirt road will tumble a car five hundred feet.”

“Buckle up, at least we have a roll bar.”

A quick turn by Allan directed the chase uphill. The raging Marshal beat and cut off the rescue-bound sheriff at the corner.

The Sheriff radioed, “10-50 – north Virginia Canyon Road –10-4.”

“Come again Sheriff.”

“I’m chasing two vehicles up Oh My God – high speed and reckless driving. Alert Gilpin County for intercept.”

The Jeep in the lead kicked up dirt and dust camouflaging the accelerated climb.

As Red fiddled with the handcuffs binding her and Ellie together, she advised. “Jake dropped a Chevy V8 in this Jeep. Extra horses pull this buggy, Honey.”

In furious pursuit, a reckless Wentworth plowed the heavy SUV through the blinding dust clouds. The over-zealous law enforcer did not realize the risks navigating the treacherous mountain pass. Sheriff Kimball bided his time. He knew the road meandered to the adjoining county where neighboring deputies would intercept.

With a clear unobstructed view and extra horsepower, Allan torqued the Jeep through the curves and switchbacks with minor effort. Chilling maneuvers caused hearts to skip.

Wentworth skidded dangerously around the curves. His rear tires spilled over the edges as he swerved through the switchbacks. At a hairpin turn, luck bit the Marshal in the ass. Wentworth fishtailed the back end of the truck over the cliff. The brute of his temperament was no match for the force of gravity. The black cumbersome Suburban slid backwards down the gulch. A rockslide engulfed the sliding and plummeting truck. The Sheriff watched Wentworth’s plunge to hell.

“10-52… 11-82… 10-4!”

“Come again Sheriff.”

“The stupid asshole marshal just rolled off Oh My God. I need Mountain Rescue and an ambulance. You hear me Harold?”

“A yah, 10-4… Copy.”

Sister advised Allen. “On the left, the land bellies out between the ridges where an old wagon trail leads to the Alice Mining District.”

The average eye would not recognize the former route now thick with brush. Unaware of Wentworth’s demise, the odd gang of fugitives proceeded, hoping to waylay the pursuit. After an hour of slow travel, navigating the off-road topography, the skies darkened. Thunder crackled forthcoming foul weather.

Allan said, “Let’s get this top up or we’ll be soaked.”

While negotiating the terrain in the drizzle, a strike of lightning fried a nearby tree. Everyone jumped to the sudden crack and bang.

“Whoa, too close for safety,” Ellie shrieked.

Red clamped her hands over both ears, pulling Ellie’s cuffed arm with the impulsive gesture. “Flee to lower ground. We’re too high.”

Sister clung to the roll bar as she surveyed the route. “The trail descends into a little basin.”

Allan wiped his wet hands on his shirt to better grip the steering wheel. “Okay, let’s move off this ridge.”

The rain ceased, at least temporality, but the persistent lightning and thunder remained. The murky clouds blackened the atmosphere and blocked the sun. Streaks of lightning poked through the dark sky while thunder echoed off the mountains. Eventually, they parked in a clump of trees above a pond spilling with run-off.

“We should move away from trees.”

The crew ventured out in a tolerable trickle

“Reminds me,” Red said, “Jake keeps a 30-30 carbine in the floor trunk. I love ya Ellie, but these cuffs are too close for comfort.”

She retrieved the rifle.

“What do you mean to do Red?”

“Honey, I’m gonna shoot out a link.”

“No, wait a moment,” said Allan, “we learn things in jail. Who’s got a pin or paper clip?”

Sister snatched a gemstone hairpin from Red’s hair. She bashed the piece with a rock and gave the remaining pin to Allan.

“That was my Mother’s Turquoise,” said Red.

Allan put the pin to mouth and worked it with his teeth. “The trick is two free hands to pop the lock.” Persistence opened the bindings.

The storm continued to muddy the trail.

Ellie pointed. “Look, is that what they call ball lightning?”

Luminous spherical free-floating objects descended to Earth. The glowing globes moved purposeful in direction.

Allan asked, “Does ball lightening move along the terrain?”

Sister detected the illuminated spheres organizing into a perimeter around them. “We’re all here in one spot – alone – no witnesses. We should get out of here.”

The hounded victims scrambled into the Jeep and fled as the alien hunters mounted an attack. In the rush, Allan steered down a flooded ravine into rocks, brush, and trees. The Jeep slid under a low hanging limb that busted the windshield and ripped off the canvas top. Again, the heavens opened with pelting rain and hail. Amid the lightning strikes and clashing thunder, the radiant menacing spheres chased. A lambent orb zoomed in from the rear to attack. As it flew closer, you could see the silhouette of a physique inside the assaulting phenomenon.

Sister rose, faced, and challenged the alien slavers. She opened her palms flat, stretched out her arms like Moses parting the sea, and arched her spine in a defiant posture.

The assaulting UFO discharged a bolt of energy in her direction. Sister screamed in pain as she absorbed-intercepted the incoming blast with her body aura, but the burst knocked her into Ellie’s lap. The two twitched as they grasped for air.

Red cocked, aimed, and fired the rifle at the chasing sphere. “Die fucker,” The flying ball withdrew. Allan wrestled with the wheel and gears. The Jeep bucked and jerked its riders. As Sister struggled to her feet, Ellie grabbed her legs to stabilized. Another UFO fired a second round that knocked Sister over the seat and render them both catatonic. Allan felt the second-hand effects of the stun in his arms and legs as he struggled to steer the Jeep, but lost control and crashed into a stand of bushy Aspen willows. The bushes and the soggy wet bog broke their impact.

An orb darted from behind a tree to confront the novice warriors. Red delivered two gunshots forcing the attacker to collide with a large tree and dissipate out of sight.

Suddenly, all seemed quiet but the noise of the drizzling rain.

People called, “You guys need help!”

Four outdoor types dressed in camouflage, riding ATVs, and carrying side arms arrived on scene. Allan and Ellie came around, while Sister was slow to recover. Red ached bad.

“We heard the shots. Saw fireworks. What was all the ruckus?”

“A story hard to believe…” Allan replied.

 

Chapter 28 – Recuperation

At the mine, Cousin’s phone rang.

“It’s Allan. We’ve had an accident. We’re battered up a bit.”

“What! We’re you at?”

“Sister tells us, we’re on Yankee Hill above the mine. Shit what a fuck’in day. We were chased by police and aliens, and crashed the Jeep. Some off-roaders will bring us in on the old stagecoach road. Red’s foot is broke; she’s sore all over. I cracked my nose – gashed my head. Ellie’s okay, but her ribs hurt bad. Sister is out of it – dazed. She got stunned real bad. We should take Red to the emergency room.”

Cousin said, “We meet you on the way down. I’m leaving now in the truck.”

After connecting with the rescued group, Jake drove Red to the nearest emergency room. Now located by government and alien agents, Allan, Ellie, and Sister, fled to Paradise to mend not wanting to risk identification at a hospital.

At the Lodge, the three fugitives lay slouched on a couch with Allan in the middle.

“We almost died.”

“Chased by aliens and the cops.”

Allan said, “We’re finished on Earth. If the cops are chasing us, they must think we killed Jimbo and Willy.”

Sister said, “Our alien enemies may have killed them in search of us.”

“Sis, will they find us in Paradise?” asked Ellie.

“Statistically, probably not. My alien trackers must sort and search an infinite number of parallel worlds. Time is on our side for now.”

Allan said, “Wow, we’re run-a-ways in a Multiverse.”

“A Multiverse… imagine our options,” said Ellie

Allan flung his head back. “Imagine our dilemma.”

Jake and Cousin sat in Sheriff Kimball’s office with a deputy taking notes. Two men in dark suits observed and remained quiet.

Jake said, “Sheriff, we had no idea.”

“No, we didn’t.”

“We rented to a brother and sister going to school – college students. You met Allan and Ellie at the Senior Center, a polite cute pair, but con artists that scanned you too. Who knew they were run-a-ways and wanted? They were going to take care of the property while Red and I took a Caribbean cruise for our wedding anniversary.”

At Paradise, the new alliance of humanoids plus one human adapted to a new reality and universe. After the heat settled, Jake and Cousin would take turns crossing over to address unfinished business.

Allan’s bruised swollen face, Ellie’s battered ribs, and Sister’s aching body did not deter their curiosity. The next morning in the kitchen Allan gazed out a window and asked, “What’s in the big building?”

Cousin wiped his mouth on his shirtsleeve signaling a finished breakfast. “Shall we visit the Barn?”

Jake said, “Our R and D facility.”

Cousin was looking at his brother when he said, “Oh, you catch me at a bad time.” He rolled open the bay door of a large rectangular planked building. “Independence is our middle name. We are uniquely prepared for all situations.” A scurry of small animals ran and flew out of building as the sunlight exposed a jumbled mayhem of machinery, tools, boxes, stuff, and junk.

“Oh shit,” said Jake. “What the hell the mess!”

“Hey, my lazy-ass brother, when was the last time you did a chore around here!”

Jake sighed, “This used to be an organized warehouse, garage, tool bin, and work shop.”

Cousin asked, “Do you want to show them the alien stuff. It’s in the back. We’ll have to crawl over the junk.”

Jake explained, “Our excursions to other civilizations allowed us to collect an assortment of souvenirs and trinkets.”

“Collected,” Jake laughed and rolled his eyes, “how about steal.”

After a climb and trek to the rear of the trashed facility, Cousin directed the tour to a corner of dusty shelving with odd items. “We store an assortment of alien devices – contraptions.”

Allan got up close and scrutinized the assortment. “Alien technology, what do they do?”

“Well, we figured out these are hand held weapons, ray guns or blasters. You point and pull the lever or trigger. The other weird stuff, we can’t read the labels or instructions.”

“May I touch,” Allan asked.

“Yes, but don’t push any buttons or turn switches.”

“Stop” Sister screamed; her outburst alarmed.

“What… What’s wrong?”

“You know not.”

Sister surveyed the equipment. Her face displayed considerable interest. “On the planet Earth where English is considered the diplomatic language of commerce and business, the same holds true in other universes. A generic extraterrestrial language notates these devices.”

She pointed as she read the labels. “Batteries, transmitters, receivers, and a levitating device on the far shelf gathering dust… Also, you have a nuclear power supply of the cold nature.”

Jake said, “Can’t be. Impossible.”

“Not in my world,” Sister informed, “cheap plentiful energy.”

A curious Allan pointed to an object the size of a breadbox. “This one is more confusing, key pad and toggle switches. Can you read it?”

Sister considered the labeling. “This is a machine of great power – an explosive device with the energy of a small sun. It is probably industrial in nature and used on an asteroid or planetary bodies for mining and blasting.”

“Wow! I could have blown us up with the flip of a switch.”

Ellie teased, “Oh boyfriend, you should be more careful when you’re fooling around with nuclear explosives.”

Sister explained. “You input the code into this keypad. The instructions are right here.” She pointed to a mix of strange symbols, markings, or letterings on the device.

Allan said, “Teach me how to read this stuff?”

Sister said, “We all should learn to read and write the universal language considering our situation.”

A curious Ellie touched the foreign objects with her fingertips. “Cousin and Jake, how did you come by these devices?”

Cousin said, “Once a person starts popping in and out of assorted universes, he or she becomes familiar with the various humanoid types. Intelligent life exists throughout the galaxies – similar yet different or unique. Admittedly, my brother and I have not been the best of neighbors. Perhaps it was our era attitudes and fear of the unknown.”

Jake said, “Intelligent life is similar everywhere – a lot of two legged, two armed, one headed humanoid typed creatures coming in a variety of different colors and tastes.”

Ellie asked again, “So how did you acquire the blasters?”

Cousin said, “I acquired these weapons in mortal competitive combat. All are trophies. Defeat the creature – you are awarded its weapon.”

“No, you didn’t!” Red heckled, “You snatched it, and ran-off – just like the other stuff.”

Jake laughed, “Dear wife, you are difficult to fool. We borrowed a few for self-protection in a cruel and unpredictable Multiverse – just in case.”

“Yah right,” Red said.

Cousin spoke, “We harbor memories and sentiment from a different era, so we stand prepared… Also, these days, climate change influences how one prepares for the future and possible chaos.”

Jake justified. “Paradise is for peacemakers and for the humble in spirit. Our weapons are for emergencies or exceptional use. We also own traditional weapons tucked away in the basement of the lodge. Someday, we will melt those guns into plows.”

“Hey enough with the doomsday stuff,” Cousin said, “we have a resource room in the Lodge. Let’s check it out.”

Back at the Lodge, a large room contained books, magazines, manuals, journals, tapes, videos, disks, a computer station, a big screen, reading tables and couches.

“Welcome to the resource room,” Cousin greeted, “a cool place to visit on a rainy or sunny day.”

Jake bragged, “Historic and scientific knowledge, as well as, a heavy dose of the liberal arts to soothe savage beasts – and to challenge inquisitive minds, a cardboard box of un-translated alien materials and media.” Cousin picked out an extraterrestrial pamphlet and quipped, “This is an advertisement for a used flying saucer, as far as we know.”

Sister glanced at the paper. “It is an instruction manual for a cosmic toilet.”

Cousin surveyed the pamphlet a second time. “Naw… Really?”

“I joke,” Sis replied.

Ellie took notice of a Denver Post newspaper laying out on table.

Jake noticed. “That’s a recent weekend edition I brought back when I crossed over.”

A headline caught her attention. Reading the article, she said, “Allan, you need to see this.”

 

Musical Farmers Loose Farm

By Ben Hooks

Denver Post

 

Andrew and Mildred Hastings and Ted and Margaret Bennet, local Rocky Ford farmers and popular Renaissance Musicians, filed for personal bankruptcy. The longtime residents of Rocky Ford claim debts related to their 640-acre farm. The news media followed the two couples who went to trial for Mann Act violations (Slave Traffic Act), and various charges of contributing to the delinquency of minors. A jury found them innocent of all charges.

Andrew Hastings would not discuss details about the incidents involving any minors, but said, “An unfortunate time in our lives that we regret.”

Ted Bennet said, “Three drought years and a flood out of the last seven hasn’t helped, made things difficult all around with no harvest and cash flow.”

Margaret Bennet said, “We’d lease our farmland to neighbors and then during the summer tour and perform at Renaissance Festivals and at schools and family type events, but we lost our following and fans with the sordid publicity.”

Andrew Hastings explained the two families homesteaded the property in 1868. “We owe about 3.2 million to several creditors and lawyers and property taxes, so the farm is for sale.”

A tearful Mildred Hastings could only say, “We still have our music and each other.”

Bucklin Agri Reality will auction the property at a date to be set.

 

 

“It’s our fault,” she said as Allan read the newspaper article.

Allan said, “It seems that way. Life is not fair, bad things happen to good people, and then the laws of probability influence…”

“Oh shit Allan,” she interrupted. Her never heard tone surprised the room. “How can you be so indifferent? We just screwed a bunch of friends. What did we give back?” She waited a moment for a response. “Misery!”

“Ellie, you’re right, but I don’t feel like you… considering my psychopathic or self-serving tendencies.”

“Allan do you intellectually agree they’re worst off for helping us.”

“Yes.”

“So what do we do?”

Allan tossed the newspaper to the table. “Nothing. We’re fugitives chased by aliens and cops – we’re not even human. We no longer live on the planet Earth. Our life plays out like a cheap a science fiction movie. We don’t need any more drama. I want to kick back for a while… and relax.”

Ellie replied, “I’m half human. Maybe the drama comes with the territory.”

Jake interrupted and looked at Allan. “I sense fear in you son.”

“Ya,” said Cousin. “You got some human stuff inside you.”

Allan asked, “What do you expect me to do?”

Ellie said. “A hug and apology is something to offer.”

Cousin raised his voice. “Hey, money is not an issue in our reality. We just pick it off the ground. A coffee can full of gold nuggets would help your friends.”

“We can do that,” said Jake in an obliging voice.

Sister joined the conversation. “Considering recent attempts to capture us, danger awaits us on Earth if we return.”

Red said, “No one is chasing me.”

“We are all in jeopardy,” Sister replied. “They would track you to find us.”

Allan turned to address Ellie, but she slipped out of the room and disappeared. Latter in the day, Allan spotted Ellie at a distance walking among the animals at the edge of the forest. Let her be. I don’t like her attitude.

Skipping supper, come sunset, Ellie sat under a far tree accompanied by Rom, Rem, and Kat. Folks and a brooding Allan retired to bed knowing Ellie sat on the front porch swing staring into the night skies. Red bid her good night with kind words and a hug. When the Twins stopped by Cousin said, “Tomorrow, I’ll go down to the creek and rake up some nuggets.” Jake hugged the girl. “Don’t you worry.”

Allan gave her space; he needed room to process unfamiliar affective states of consciousness. Are my loves and likes conditional? They would talk when she came to bed.

Sister joined Ellie on the porch. “Hello Ellie.”

When Ellie turned to greet, she noticed Sister’s hair. “Sis your hair grows fast. It’s almost white without color and you look taller.”

“Yes, I am. This lab experiment is growing. My nipples are appearing too. I may sprout breasts.”

Sister’s info caused Ellie to ask. “Sis, we never asked. How old are you?”

“I am approaching six years.”

Ellie’s posture straightened. “You’re a child.”

“I am an anomaly in the humanoid templet.”

“Yah, we’re all deviates,” said Ellie, “I wonder what brings us together. Allan would say… it’s was just a question of time before we assembled.”

Sister said, “An infinite number of probable and improbable worlds in a swarm of universes.”

Ellie eyes opened wide. “Then nothing really matters. We’re just a speck in a vast assortment of realities.”

“Specks relevant at a specific point in time and space. What we choose is consequential.”

Ellie nodded her head yes. “A sobering and soothing notion. I like it.” Ellie looked to the skies. “Almost full moon tonight, sunrise in a few hours. I’m taking off to visit the Bennets and Hastings. Will you tell the others in the morning?”

“Can you wait for the others?”

“No. Intuition tells me, Allan and Cousin will follow with a can of gold. Splitting up might throw off the alien trackers and the law. I need to go. Now aware of my humanoid nature – who and what I am. I need to assert my own self… without Allan or the Twins. Make my own decisions. Choice over chance… at least for now. I can’t abandon friends who are worse off because of me. Intuition tells me to go. Might you understand Sis?”

“You may need my help returning to Earth and beyond.”

Deep in sleep, he remembered a kiss goodbye and “I love you Allan.”

Come morning, Red discovered a note on the kitchen table from Ellie and Sister.

 

Chapter 29 – Encounter

With the escort of house pets and local animals, Ellie and Sister hiked the wagon trail up to the portal and crossed over to Earth.

At the community mailboxes by the main road down from the mountain, Ellie said, “Two females hitching-hiking will make good time.” Ellie set her backpack to the ground and opened her parka exposing her physique. She undid her ponytail and dropped her hair over her shoulders. “This seems to work.”

Mack who worked the early shift at the Eisenhower Tunnel drove them into town. Two male DU students took them to Denver. A trucker working the I-25 Corridor dropped the pair off in Pueblo. By early evening, a local farmer returning with supplies brought them to the Simms farm, close to Cousin Sam’s bungalow. When Ellie and Sis tried to shortcut across the field to the main farmhouse, a dog announced their intrusion bringing Sam out to investigate.

“Hi Sam,” Ellie greeted, “Remember me?”

Sampson weighed twelve pounds at birth. Appropriate in name, he grew to a six-foot plus frame and wore his hair long most of his life. Raised on the farm, he married his high school girlfriend, provided for his son and daughter, and worked his passions on the homestead. Sam lived a contented existence until the horrid death of his family by a drunk driver. As the lone survivor of the crash, he wondered why he lived and they died.

Sam hand carved the gravestones for his family. He displayed a remarkable gift for carving stone and continued with tombstones, monuments, and statues. For years, relatives and friends waited for his return to a happier space. Sam became the odd nephew who created beautiful, fanciful statues. Sometimes he sold his works at flea markets and fairs.

“Oh yes,” Sam replied in a gruff voice, “a lying sack of shit. Where’s your boyfriend? Dead!”

“I’m here to apologize. I’m sorry.”

“If you’re looking for a place to stay, we can’t offer much being we’ve been served papers by the Sheriff to get off – to leave. Evicted!”

Sam approached Ellie and Sis but stopped short gesturing to a stately clump of trees. “My wife, daughter, and son are buried there. Where will we go? What will we do?”

Not realizing how foolish her words sounded, Sister blurted, “Allan comes with a can of gold.”

Sam’s eyes narrowed. The big man groaned and retreated to the house slamming the door.

Ellie pursued and pleaded. “Sam, please let me explain.”

Intuition alerted. Sister turned her attention to the dark atmosphere and disappearing sun. Orbs, faint spheres, or popping aberrations of light, distorted and dotted the skies.

“Girlfriend,” said Sister, “Our enemies return.”

Ellie turned to see the alien transports settled into the fields and trees surrounding the distant farmhouse. She rushed to the door to plead and pound. “Sam, Sam, Help us!”

A few minutes between universes and a day’s travel across the state, Allan and Cousin drove to the family farm in Rocky Ford. The setting sun cast shadows over the neglected fields, a dead tree, a collapsed barn roof, and fallen fence rails, all depicting a depressed property stripped of workers, animals, and machinery. In the back yard sat the wreckage of the hippie school bus. Beeps of the horn announced their arrival. No one appeared at first until an underwear-clad male stepped on the porch. “Who is it?”

“It’s Allan and a friend.”

Ajax said, “Oh… Ah… Allen the fugitive. What do you want?”

Allan asked, “I’m looking for Ellie and her friend? Have you seen them?”

“No… Ya know, I’ve been instructed to call the police if I catch sight of you.”

The commotion brought out Andy who said, “Oh no, trouble returns.”

Allan gave Cousin a sorrowful glance and a sigh. “Let’s drop off the stuff and look for the girls.” He stepped forward holding a coffee can. “Here take this.”

Ajax hesitated. “What’s that, a bomb?”

“It’s a can of gold nuggets to pay off your debts.”

Cousin presented a second can to Andy “I have another one for you too.”

Maggie and Millie appeared at the doorway.

Ajax grasped the can and almost dropped it due to its heavy weight. Examining the contents, he said, “Come inside.”

Ajax and Andy spread the contents of the cans over the kitchen table. The family clan gawked at the sight.

Cousin said, “Worth a few million as jewelry and collector items.”

Andy asked, “I don’t understand. Where did all this come from?”

Ajax’s voice rose. “To us, you’re giving this to us? Why?”

Millie held a cluster to the light. Maggie asked, “Did you find it – buried treasure or stolen?”

Allan said, “Ellie and I apologize for the heartache we caused. We owe you. It’s that simple.”

Cousin said, “My friends, the gold is not stolen; it comes from my mine. I have a lot. And to assist Allan and Ellie, I’m giving some to you.”

Allan said, “That’s a very long story for another time, but right now we’re searching for Ellie and her friend Sis. Can you call us if they show up here?” Allan handed them a mobile. “Cousin and I will watch the local roads for them.”

Blam – Blam – Blam, sounded distant blasts.

The noise brought Maggie to the window. “Sounds like Sam’s shotgun.”

Bang – Bang! Andy said, “That’s a hand gun.”

Blam – Blam! Bang – Bang – Bang!

“I’ll call 911,” said Ajax, “Something’s wrong.”

Boom! A sonic blast shattered window glass and blasted the front door open and sucked out breathing air. Furniture shook and objects moved. A flash of light and a zap of energy permeated the house. Covering their ears, shielding their eyes, and clutching their throats, everybody collapsed to the floor twitching, unconscious, and paralyzed.

Clad kidnappers in helmets and dark body armor charged through the doorway.

After binding Allan’s legs and arms, a kidnapper dragged him outside. The other Aliens assembled the other comatose victims into an orderly arrangement on the floor.

Bang – Bang!

Suddenly, the torso of an attacker soared through the doorway, crashed against the wall, and fell to the floor. The big guy, Sampson appeared, and though somewhat confused, understood the danger before him. One threatening humanoid pointed a device and attempted to fire a shot, but Sam’s large hand wrenched the weapon away tossing the device over his shoulder. In quick order Sam hurled and threw the intruders about the room, banging and smashing bodies off walls like rag dolls until all became quiet.

Ellie and Sister rushed into the house each clutching clunky western six-shooters, almost too big for their hands.

“Rip off their heads or shoot them in the brain!” shouted Sister. “They return to collect their own unless they are completely really dead.”

The sky lit up and illuminated a blinding bright perimeter around the farmhouse.

Several floored extra-terrestrials stirred. Sam followed instructions by seizing an alien at the neck and lifted the menace off the ground. His attempt to rip off a head only removed the helmet exposing a featureless face with just eyes and holes. Sam’s second effort wrenched the noggin off the squirming creature whose blood spewed over the giant.

Sister, standing over a floored alien, shot the thing in the head. The bullet deflected off the helmet. The recoil knocked the lightweight girl to her butt. Sam, picked up the alien, ripped off the helmet and held the screeching cosmic terrorist high to the ceiling. He yelled as the dangling fiend struggled, “Shoot the fucker!”

Ellie walked up close, lifted an antique Colt 45 Cowboy Revolver above her head, and pulled the trigger. Bang! The head splattered as the gun drove her back a step.

“Again,” Sam shouted as he wretched off a helmet and held the creature up in the air.

A pull of the trigger, click – nothing. “I’m empty,” screamed Ellie.

Sister jumped to her feet and fired again. Bang!

A gory mess of headless torsos thrashed about the floor. The illuminated night sky turned black. The aliens disappeared. Sam, Ellie, and Sister, dripping with alien guts and blood stood silent as they surveyed the carnage and gathered their wits as the others regained consciousness. Millie, saturated with alien muck shook out her hands shrieking disgust. Maggie on her back moaned. Still in shackles, Allan crawled in the front door. “Ellie.” She rushed to his side.

“What the fuck happen?” asked Andy as he stumbled to his feet and looked at the carcasses. “What is the mess – that smell?”

Sister said, “We are being tracked by extraterrestrial humanoids who want to kidnap us, so we killed them.”

Andy caressed a whimpering Maggie, “Oh shit.”

Ajax sat up to say, “Who the hell are you?”

She responded, “I’m a friendly humanoid from another universe here to help.”

“Extraterrestrial, like aliens with flying saucers?” Maggie asked.

“I saw them land,” said Sam.

Allan now sat in a chair as Ellie tried to undo his hands. He said, “Aliens are all around. You be surprised how close they are.”

“These headless bodies,” eked Millie

Sister advised, “The bodies decompose and disappear – disposable workers programed for retrieval with limited intelligence – no match for a motivated Earthlings and human ingenuity. We need to go.”

Ajax said, “Go? Where are we going?”

Ellie said, “How about a parallel Earth – pristine, immaculate, and untouched by human hands where no other people exist or live – except us.”

Sister said, “We can explain everything in the truck once we’re on the road. We need to leave right now.”

Cousin who was recuperating against a wall said, “It’s a very long story that begins in 1878…”

Ajax, Maggie, Andy, Millie, and Sam reacted strangely to revelations about Paradise. Even if people are liberal, open-minded, artsy-fartsy types, stories of aliens, humanoids, abductions, multiuniverses, and wormholes are difficult to digest. Fortunately, the drive to the mine was a long trip. When freaked-out Ajax, Maggie, Andy, Millie, and Sam stood before the infamous portal, attitudes changed. When the amazed visitors met the animals and rode horseback to the hot springs, minds changed. When the equine guides approached the arched gateway labeled Paradise, and the lodge stood before a select group of humanity, reality changed.

Come nightfall, the Paradise concierges tucked to bed the exhausted and over-whelmed guest believers. A quiet movement arrived and the caretakers of the pristine planet relaxed.

On a second floor balcony, the twins relaxed with the assistance of a shot glass and a pipe.

“What a day,” Jake remarked.

“What a day, week, month,” said Cousin. “Last year this time I was an eccentric recluse. Now I feel like I’m raising teenagers and have a house full of visiting relatives for the holidays.”

“Well, our visiting relatives seem tolerable and useful… musicians and farmers not wrapped up in the status quo. They could be bankers, lawyers, or politicians.”

“Ya know Bro, besides these alien attacks, we got unfinished business back on Earth.”

Cousin took a deep breath as to relax. “I know and it stirs emotions and my PTSD. I don’t like it. We’ve lived long lives, survived two world wars and all the weird wormhole stuff…”

“And the aliens.”

“And the passing of kin, sons, daughters, our wives.”

“I get really pissed off when someone messes with Paradise, my peace of mind. They killed the dogs – not ordinary dogs, but mindful Paradise animals. Stealing my land drives me to rage. He and others like him must never find out – get access – they could change the Multiverse and future outcomes.”

“Ya, and not favorably.”

“Well, I got a plan. Listen up.”

On a cozy couch in front of a burning fireplace. Unaffected Sister, raised in a humanoid research facility, could act childlike in her emotional demeanor. Unaware of social norms, she learned by observation and imitation. With her hair growing out, the alienette appeared more normal, but unique in comportment.

Allan lay slouched on the sofa with his feet stretched out on the floor – on each side, Ellie and Sister nestled. He said, “We killed a lot of things or creatures today. I don’t mind street life, no family, no real friends, or poverty, but must we fight for our lives everyday forever?”

“Yes,” said Sister.

“That sucks,” said Ellie. “I don’t like killing, anything dying, stuff ending or even saying goodbye.”

Sister said, “We are data to be collected.”

Ellie asked, “Sis, can you be positive?”

“No,” said Sister, “The Human species will be studied, replicated in hybrid forms, controlled, and then eradicated.”

“A war between humanoid civilizations,” said Allan

“Yes.”

Ellie grasped Allan’s hand. “We’re the first to know. Who do we tell? Who’s going to believe us?”

He sighed, “It doesn’t matter. We’re half-alien. We’re the enemy. Anyway, considering what humans do to the planet. Maybe they deserve eradication.”

Ellie wondered out loud. “Is there a place for us in the Multiverse?”

Sister grasped Allan’s other hand and said, “Let us look.”

He asked, “Speaking about the Multiverse, what’s going on for you gals in the wormhole? You feel or hear it too – the wavy stuff?”

“I do Allan,” responded Ellie, “each portal broadcasts its own identity or signature frequency.”

“I do Allan,” copied Sister, “a signature frequency directed me through the wormhole and to my demise in another realm and guided me home to Earth.”

On her side, Ellie talked close to Allan’s ear. Her warm breath tickled.

He giggled, “So if we pay attention, we might be able to read the probable realities beyond a wormhole.”

Sister took delight in Allan’s laugh. She purposely imitated Ellie’s close ear talk and said, “All matter in the universe exists as wave and particle. Wormholes will broadcast their nature and origin.” Her warm breath buckled his neck. “Also, inside a wormhole the classical laws of physics may or may not apply. Time-space is distorted and can be manipulated.”

“What does that mean?” He asked.

“I don’t know,” answered Sister, “It is assimilated information from my keepers.”

Selfless and secure Ellie instructed Sister, “Blow in his ear; it drives him crazy, like this…”

Student learner Sis followed instructions.

 

Chapter 30 – Suspicions

Crum walked into a downtown bistro and wine bar named Mile High. He found Silverstone sitting in a dark corner with a pair of females dressed in halter-tops, jeans and heals. “So this is what you call a discrete location for a sensitive meeting.”

“Excuse me ladies. Someone needs my assistance.” Silverstone removed a business card from his sport jacket and set it on the table. “My card, let’s talk more. I live down the street in Denver Towers. You girls should see the view.”

Horace and Bruce moved to the bar. “Now tell me about the part not going so well, my paid professional consultant.”

Crum annoyed by Silverstone’s remark blurted, “I got a dead man and another wounded.”

Silverstone gagged on a swallow of wine. “What! Bruce you dummy, you said broken laws, not murder.”

Crum said, “Nobody was murdered. One of my crew drowned in a mineshaft. The other was shot during the home break-in; he’ll be all right. I had to spend additional money to keep people quiet and content.”

“Extra money,” Silverstone yelled in a loud whisper, “dead men cost a lot of money.”

“Hold on, Horace. I don’t think money is an issue. We recovered from the mine a quantity of gold nuggets worth almost a million.”

“Let’s get out of here,” ordered Silverstone.

On a busy downtown sidewalk, the conversation continued. A stone-serious Silverstone asked, “Are you screwing with me Bruce?”

“No, not at all,” Crum smirked, “There’s still gold in that mine or mountain. I don’t understand how they’re pulling it out.”

Silverstone stopped walking ignorant of the foot traffic he blocked. “What about the police or sheriff, the authorities?”

Crum leaned in to speak. “No problems, but I gathered contradicting information. I bought a tip from the local sheriff’s office – only an investigation regarding the break-in at the house and nothing at the mine. No dead body reported or a gold theft.”

“How interesting, no reports of a burglary or a corpse.” Silverstone searched for angle. “Someone wants this kept a secret for a reason.”

“That’s what I thought, Horace.”

 

Chapter 31 – The Plan

Horace Silverstone, sipping a Mai Tai, sat soaking in a private rooftop hot tub at the Lucky Star Casino Spa Resort.

“Mr. Silverstone, it’s time for your massage,” the host announced.

Silverstone sported a custom-made toga like garment that wrapped around his slim physique. He strutted to a spa table where a babe masseuse waited. Sometime into the pampered man’s massage, Bruce Crum arrived.

“Hello Horace, feeling well,” Crum asked.

Silverstone eyes remained closed.

“That’s sounds like my gold gopher, Crum Boy,” a haughty laugh followed. “I’m trying to relax my stressed out body.”

“What do you mean?” The Shamus replied.

“I received a letter from Jacob Simms declaring his intent to challenge eminent domain over his property. He will never sell at any price. Court time, lawyer fees, time delays and more work, I do not like it at all. This Simms, this local yokel, possessed the nerve to write me a personal letter of emotional dribble about his family’s ancestral land, mining heritage, buried kin, and whatever else to pull a tear out of my eye. What crock of shit, I’ll eat this guy alive!”

“What do you want me to do?”

Silverstone spoke to the masseuse. “Honey, I’m thirsty, get me another drink.”

After she left, Silverstone went on to say, “Dig up some dirt on this guy and if you can’t find anything, make some stuff up people will believe. Be clever Bruce. Now leave me; I’m trying to relax.”

A few days later, Silverstone sat at his office desk when his secretary rang him on the telephone.

“Mister Silverstone, a Jacob Simms is here. He would like to meet with you.”

Silverstone smiled. Ah of course, here to beg and plead for mercy. The turd can sit and sweat for a while.

“Baby doll, tell Mr. Simms I am in a meeting, and will be with him shortly.”

Simms sat for over one hour waiting. The secretary brought him a cup of lukewarm coffee. After the phone rang, the secretary finally said, “Mr. Silverstone is available.”

Simms entered to find Silverstone sitting with his back to him while fiddling on the computer. He said, “Please sit down sir, I am finishing up here.”

Eventually, Silverstone turned around, but surprise captured his face when he saw a well-groomed, clean shaved man in a business suit wearing black rimmed glasses. The astute developer expected a blue-collar type miner in work boots, coveralls, and a plaid flannel shirt.

“Mr. Simms, I thought you were a much older man.”

“Mr. Silverstone, you must be thinking of my father who turns ninety-one this year. We bear the same name, Jacob. Though thank you for the compliment. I like to think of myself as a fit sixty-five.”

“Therefore, Mr. Simms are you here to represent the interests of your father who I assume holds title to the property?”

“Let me say I am here to represent the common sense interests of my family,” Mr. Simms said with a cordial smile.

“Mr. Simms, I’m not sure I understand your remark.”

“Mr. Silverstone, I and others do not always agree with my father – old fashion, set in his ways, not a practical thinker. I differ and seek simple solutions to complicated problems. Some problems are quite easy to solve. I do not believe that you and I have conflicting interests, but rather similar interests. Might you agree?”

“What are our similar interests?”

“Power – money, gold, real estate, privilege – the usually mix of pleasures entrepreneurial men like ourselves pursue.”

“I agree Mr. Simms. What are you offering?”

“My father, or let’s say the family, owns a mining claim with a geophysical anomaly – a huge cavern or massive hollowed geode containing a vast quantity of gold nuggets. How the geological phenomenon formed, I don’t know or care. A geologist might know, but it is a hundred-year-old family secret – enough mineral wealth to finance the biggest of any real estate development project. Taking out all the gold now would cause unwanted attention and attract a rush of prospecting in the area, and environmentalists, and politicians. But ease out the mineral a little bit at the time, at today’s market prices, the mine becomes an ongoing stream of revenue.”

Silverstone pulled his chair close to his desk and sat erect.

“I find comfort in your willingness to share such a valuable family secret, but what are you proposing Mr. Simms?”

“Please call me Jacob. My father with his lawyers intends to tie up your ski and hotel project with litigation for years, as well as, lobby the Environmental Protection Agency with big cash. My father prefers the area remain undeveloped and quiet. Ego drives my father; maybe his worst enemy.”

“Please call me Horace. Jacob beyond your father’s plan, just what are you proposing?”

“Horace, I propose we become partners in your redevelopment project. I can provide significant amounts of gold converted to cash. Someday my elderly father will get sick and die. Hence, the property belongs to me. I prefer rewards sooner than later.”

“What about your father, Jacob? How will you handle him?”

“Horace, take my word. I can deal with an elderly parent whose been diagnosed with Alzheimers.”

Silverstone soothed back into his leather recliner to deliberate. “Can my secretary bring you a beverage or pastry of sorts, Jacob?”

“Horace an iced tea would be nice.”

Silverstone shouted out the door. “Sweetie, bring Mr. Simms an iced tea.”

Horace stood, folded his arms, and stared down at the sitting Simms, “Jacob, your offer sounds appealing, but your claim about the mine – the huge cavern of gold nuggets, a geophysical anomaly by your own words, is hearsay for the moment. I need proof.”

“Yes you do, Horace. I suggest you see it for yourself. Drop by the mine for a tour – a simple walk to the gold – no more than a few hundred feet. You can drive right to the entrance. Bring a colleague or two, but no more. Remember Horace; outside the family, only you know the secret. If word gets out, we could have a thousand miners crawling around those hills again. Here is my card.”

“I will consider your offer carefully, Jacob. I’ll get back tomorrow.”

Simms departed. Silverstone dialed his phone. “Bruce, new development, get over here right away.”

Silverstone paced the office as he spoke to a sitting Crum. “… so that’s the story Bruce, what do you think?”

“I guess it might be true. We didn’t get very far back in the mine. As soon as my guy sunk and drowned himself in the shaft, we got out prompto.”

“Cowardly Bruce, we should’ve known weeks ago.”

“Maybe Horace, if we knew where to look.”

Silverstone taunted, “Jacob Simms, wannabe entrepreneur – can’t comprehend he’s out of his league – outclassed – ready to be eaten alive and pooped out in chunks. My partner, this nitwitted mucker believes, how insulting.”

Silverstone stopped moving to give orders. “I want to set this up ASAP. Bring along a gorilla bodyguard in case this is a trick. Make sure you’re both armed. You drive; we’ll take your van.”

“No problem boss.”

Come Tuesday morning at the main gate of the mine, Jacobs Simms dressed in a sport coat, a smart tweed hat, and loafers, awaited the arrival of his future business partner. A beige van arrived with an inconvenienced Silverstone riding shotgun. Jacob approached to greet.

“Hello Horace, a nice day for a mountain excursion. Have the van follow me and I guide you up to the mine.”

Jacob figured the driver to be Crum and said, “Hello sir, just take it slow so you don’t split a tire on a rock.”

“Will do,” Crum acknowledged.

Once parked at the mine entrance, Silverstone, dressed for a Safari, explained to Simms, “This is my associate Mr. Bruce Crum. He is my consultant on mining ventures.”

The two men shook hands. Jacob, although smiling, assumed this man responsible for the death of his dogs, the desecrated family cemetery, and violated the privacy of his home.

Out of the back of the van emerged a six-foot, three-hundred-pound Neanderthal-faced goon.

Silverstone motioned, “Mr. Smith, we brought along for a second opinion.”

The Simms shook his large hand.

Jacob instructed, “Gentlemen the light in the mine is dim, but I have some lanterns for the cavern where the gold nuggets are deposited. Farther in, please understand we will walk through a trace amount of naturally occurring nitrous oxide gas vapors from decaying permafrost layers created during the glacier period. The narcotic inhalant with a stinky odor could make you light-headed and play tricks with your senses and balance. Some people compare it to intoxication or a hallucination. OSHA requires respirators and we wear helmets.” Simms passed out gear. “If it affects you, it will be temporary. I will lead and let’s walk in a straight line.”

Simms’s phony account of nitrous oxide provided cover for a squirming wormhole. He led, Crum followed with Silverstone in the middle, and Mr. Smith guarding the end. The Brother passed the time with chat. “I hope you brought a camera for pictures or use your phone, Mr. Crum,” asked Simms.”

“Yes, in the backpack with the other gear.”

A pleasant Simms continued to gab. “I don’t mind if you collect some samples,” the twin said with a laugh. “Don’t want you thinking I painted the rocks yellow.”

Crum said, “Thank you Mr. Simms, our intent.”

Silverstone, huffing too much to talk, stopped and removed an inhaler from his pocket. “Are you feeling well, Horace?” asked Jacob.

“I’m fine – just keep moving.”

Jacob directed his lantern to the ground. “See the boards on the ground. They cover a flooded mineshaft, I plan to drain someday and mine.”

The crew crossed over the platform and approached the actual portal and the vortex turbulence. Cousin played up the hoax.

“Gentleman, we are now passing through the nitrous oxide gas vapors. I’m hallucinating a bit. You may feel the effects. Stay focused; follow me. Soon you will notice a purple glow from the benitoite and sodalite minerals; the rocks are florescent.”

Simms hoped his ruse would work.

“You’re right Simms, I’m feeling it,” Silverstone huffed. “The floor is moving; I’m hallucinating too.”

Simms replied, “A lot of water ran through this section of the mine. You are witnessing the effects of erosion and don’t forget about the vapors on your senses. Soon the surface will get rough again and the florescent rocks will end.”

Silverstone stopped for a breath, “Damn you Simms, this is more than a few hundred feet.”

“Horace, the darkness, the gas, and the tunnel can mislead and distort the distance. Not much longer now, we are almost there. See the light beyond.”

They passed out of the wormhole to solid earth, and a light ahead of them.

A comforting Jacob lulled, “Follow me gentleman; it’s right up here.”

Jacob led them out of the tunnel into a hot, humid glaring sunlight. Dense peculiar foliage and flora surrounded them.

Silverstone surfaced from the cavern with a bewildering look on his sweaty pale face – too winded to talk. Crum and the bodyguard scanned the immediate area with equal astonishment and then directed their suspicions to Jacob. A dripping Crum asked, “We’re out of the mountain Simms. Where are we? Where is all this damn gold?”

Simms pointed with his arm. “It is right over there gentlemen.”

As Silverstone, Crum, and the goon turned their faces in the pointed direction, Jacob stepped behind them and scooted back into the tunnel. The bruiser, quicker than the Brother imagined, started to chase him back, but Cousin who followed at a distance, yanked a rope that dropped down a heavy log gate into the face of the lummox knocking him down. Jacob stood safely positioned on the other side of the barrier.

“What the hell,” screamed Crum seeing the takedown and the gate slamming shut.

In the commotion, Silverstone fell ass backwards to the ground screaming, “Simms, you can’t do this to me! You loser – you cheater – you fucker. You’re a dead man!”

Crum stood motionless gathering his wits.

Behind the safety of the gate, the Simms twins stood watching. One brother shouted, “When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers. Proverbs 21:15.”

Hearing those words, Crum pulled his revolver and fired shots, but the Brothers retreated into the mine tunnel. An explosion followed. A deafening blast collapsed the entrance.

Silverstone screamed, “Crum you stupid shit help me up!” Once standing again, the muddy green damp vegetation soaked the mogul’s back end. “Crum I pay you good money to prevent situations like this. What just happened? Where are we?”

Embarrassed, angry Crum shouted back, “Simms tricked us. I don’t have a bloody clue where the hell we are.”

Crum walked back to the destroyed tunnel entrance to find a pile of rubble and a collapsed hillside.

“I’m not sure we can go back the way we came. We may have to walk out, Horace.”

“Walk out! You and the big brute will carry me out!”

Silverstone pointed, “Look!”

Crum scanned the terrain, before their eyes, rodent-sized beetles scuttled about and located unconscious Mr. Smith. The bugs took interest in his sprawled body. The humongous beetles scurried over his anatomy and eventually crept under his garments, even tugging at his clothing.

A sudden conscious Mr. Smith, not understanding what had happened, screamed in terror at the sight of the insects. The assailed thug slapped at the beetles crawling over his torso and jumped to his feet in a panic. A massing horde of beetles converged and pulled him back down to his knees and ultimately to his belly. As the bugs choked down his throat, his plea for help turned into a gag as his body convulsed.

Horrified by the gruesome sight, Silverstone and Crum detected more creepy crawlers sweeping for food. Each man for himself, the fleeing quarry ran yelping in opposite directions through the dense jungle foliage. They stumbled on all fours, clutching and yanking themselves back up, only to be branch-slapped to down.

Clothes ripped and his pack dangling, a sweaty Crum rested his back against a fern like tree.

The depleted and confused investigator gasped for air as he attempted to comprehend his locale. Where am I? I don’t get it… once in the mountains, now in a jungle with man-eating bugs.

His oily sweat seared his eyes, forcing him to squint. He pulled a canteen from his pack and gulped water spilling much. Crum leaned backwards upon a thick stem or some kind of tree trunk. He rested to get his breath back. Shoulders arched, arms hanging, eyes closed, a fleeting thought asked.

Do I pray for help now?

A voice from his subconscious answered.

You stopped praying years ago.

As he wrestled with his conscience, hanging tentacles slowly and silently descended from above his body. With whip like motion, the tentacles instantly grabbed and wrapped around his armpits and pulled him up the quivering stalk of a carnivorous plant.

Crum abruptly grasped his ghastly predicament cried in terror, “Oh shit no, help me!”

The snaky action of the appendages lugged Crum to a flower type configuration. Green hairy petals collapsed down and restrained him to his back. Trapped, not truly understanding his fate, Crum watched the streaky sunlight pierce the blue sky and poke through the jungle canopy. Crum whimpered. A milky white secretion oozed beneath him to facilitate his dissolution for digestion. The gooey stuff s burned his skin. The morsel of food screamed in horror.

A pumped Silverstone, scrambled to a small clearing in the jungle. Drenched in sweat, heart pounding with one shoe missing, he discarded his Abercrombie parka. He lapped the perspiration from his arms to quench a dry mouth.

“Crum… Crum! I pay you good money. Crum… Help me!”

Silverstone dropped to all fours and cried, “Help me, help me Crum, you idiot.” The man sank to knees and banged his head to the earth.

Silverstone gasped in pain. A stabbing sting penetrated his rectum. His stunned body lost control of his neck, arms, and legs. Using his peripheral vision, to his horror, insect appendages descended and tucked him up against a creature’s abdomen. A loud buzz hurt his ears. The captured victim lifted off and became airborne.

In short time, the two descended into an underground burrow. Enough dim light permitted a face-to-face encounter, allowing Silverstone to meet his host. Paralyzed, unable to scream or move, Silverstone distinctly saw and perceived a face of eyes with dangling waggling head parts to hold, chew, suck, and shock. The creature tucked Silverstone away in a corner of the lair. The monster, turning and backing-up, extruded from its abdomen an egg and placed it between Silverstone’s legs. The paralyzed land-developer could only watch. Within time, the squirming egg split itself open; a hungry larva emerged. The larva instinctively understanding vital organs and perpetuating a fresh meal began gnawing on Silverstone’s toes. Though powerless to make noise, Silverstone’s eyes shrieked terror, horror, and revulsion as the maggot munched. The mother creature exited the hideaway, closed and covered the nest, and buried Silverstone alive in his own personal living tomb.

 

Chapter 32 – Safe House

With two dogs, I stood in a sparse room, one of many, carved inside a mountain somewhere.

A knock and the door opened, several chamber maids entered carrying a change of clothes and a tray of food and drink. The silent, but pleasing and nun-like maidens, dressed in yellow silk robes, struck a fire and left without a goodbye. I attempted to follow them, but they scattered and disappeared behind locked doors.

I looked at Lucy and Cody. “How do we get out of here if you dogs need out?”

Lucy led me a short distance to a descending stairwell carved in rock. After a lengthy descent, we found ourselves at the base of a deep steep canyon where rushing waters formed swirling pools. Lush vegetation lined the waterway and crept up the gorge walls. With the sun setting, we climbed back to our room. I made up one bed for us. I wanted close company. Sleep came quickly, me the victim of wormhole lag and exertion.

We woke to a bird-chirping sunny morning, not a soul around. Food, drink, and a fresh change of clothes laid out in the hallway. I ate a satisfying organic breakfast. From the window, the dogs and I planned a hike down to the water for a soak – to find people, a rec room, a quick mart, a liquor store, a phone, or anything.

Solitude interrupted. “Hello. Thank you for coming.”

My silly monk returns.

“Hey Bugboy, we need to talk.”

My annoying monk returns.

Q. Monk sat down at the table and poured a beverage into two wooden cups. “Join me, we never dine together.”

I remembered. “You asshole. You beat me up – buried me alive – tried to kill me!”

The monk selected a bread roll out of a basket. “This is a sweet pastry made with honey, quinoa, and goat milk.” He took a bite. “I did and you’re still live,”

I remained standing, not prepared to dine with my cosmic multi-dimensional mental health counselor.

“Okay, monk man, where the hell are we?”

“Two wormhole portals exist on Earth – in Colorado near your cabin, and a location in the mountains of Tibet. The Asian portal experienced a flurry of human activity during prehistory, but now exists as a closely guarded secret by cloistered monks and nuns. You now reside on an improbable Earth where human civilization is only a monastery, an outpost in the Multiverse where protective monks guard a wormhole portal on the ancient super continent of Pangaea during the Paleozoic era.”

“Wow, long ago, that means time travel is possible.”

He paused to drink and responded, “It is, but a difficult and perplexing task. Moving between universes in a Multiverse is easier.”

With food in his mouth, he said, “Such a notion is beyond your abilities.”

The hungry monk and his demeanor provoked a question to get his attention. “How or where do I go to meet the locals or get a drink?”

He stopped eating. “It won’t happen. As a solitude person, you will live in the guest quarters of a galactic safe house. For you the only way in or out is through the wormhole portal. Escape through the canyon by water or foot is improbable due to rapids, waterfalls, and steep walls. To trespass beyond the passageway doors might cost you your life – a sacrilege. It is probable you will reside in this locale for an extended period.”

He took another bite. His appetite annoyed me.

I cracked, “I should figure these things out for myself.”

The wise man tossed Lucy and Cody morsels from the table. “As your teacher, observer, and monky adviser, yes – you should figure and do more for yourself. Learn to properly pop between worlds. I can’t always do for you.”

Popping between worlds captured my attention. “How so,” I asked.

“Sit down, listen, and learn, he said.”

Monk leaned in close. “Wormholes are restrictive and cumbersome. Travel within the Multiverse or parallel realities is possible through conscious human choice. And I emphasis, human over humanoid.”

“Humanoid, what are you talking about?”
“A question for another day – understand the classic laws of physics must stand, but manipulating the outcome of one’s reality is possible if one is informed, patient, humble, peaceful… void of ego or identity… a Quantum Monk – uncommon in your reactive, material, and mean-spirited world.”

He whispered in my ear as if telling a secret. “The human conscious mind is a quantum machine capable of manipulating an individual’s time-space reality.”

The monk spewed ideas too fast and sensed my confusion.

“Remember, reality is where your conscious mind resides. Choose wisely. Until you learn more, you must use the wormholes to get around the Multiverse. Nevertheless, you have no time to travel and play. Finish the book.”

“Ah yes the book…” I said. “No laptop means no book though I did notice paper and ink on the table. What is the expectation here Mr. Monk? Maybe a vacation is in order to incubate creative thought. My girlfriend just died. Remember?” I expected some slack from my metaphysical mentor.

“You and she exist in other realities. You may learn to visit. The paper and ink comes with the room. You will have to finish with the items provided.”

An aspiring writer could relish this opportunity – free room, meals, and laundry in a timeless prehistoric paradise, except for the no spirits, drugs, sex, TV, or football. What would Hemingway do?

“You want me to write it out by hand.”

He spoke while chewing. “I do.”

My faltering cooperative demeanor stewed as the priest ate. Eating caused him to look out of character. Justified or not, my tired ego followed the dictates of a hooded crank codger in a dream or a hallucination or he actually existed in my life – all unnerving options. My sense of reality and mental health suffered.

“You want me to write it out by hand on paper with ink and a stupid feather like I was some school kid.”

“I do; you know the deal.” He paused and tagged his response with, “young restless Grasshopper.”

The name-calling flipped me out. My characteristic ornery persona emerged seeking control of my world – tired of all this weird paranormal, outer space, quantum magic stuff. Normal! I wanted a simple nine-to five-job on the docks, a pick-up truck, teenagers always out with their friends, a big screen TV, and a working obliging wife with a hobby that kept her busy.

“Hey you old fart, I’m sick of the damn deal and all your shit.”

The flare of temper stopped his meal and garnered a glance. “The unusual deal brings you closer to a fulfilled life. Before my arrival, what part of your current existence brought you contentment?”

The truth can hurt. “I quit!” He was so very right. I left – stomped out. Cody followed.

Exiting I heard, “Lucy and I will go.”

Sick and tired… Sick and tired of the old man and his shit.

 

Chapter 33 – Doctor J

At Paradise, an eclectic sampling of regular and hybrid humans gathered in a communal venture where participants migrated into their own areas of interest and talents. The Hastings and Bennets maintained the homestead in stereotypic fashion. Ajax and Andy labored at growing, building, and fixing while Maggie and Mille attended to domestic tasks. The Twins managed resources between worlds and tinkered in the barn on odd projects. The kids played, helped with chores, and pursued passions. Mother Red facilitated.

Sam guarded both ends of the portal. Too big for a horse, the Twins moved their modified Harley-Davidson War Bike to the Paradise side for a quick ride to the lodge. Improbable circumstances delivered a displaced Sam, now Gate Keeper to the Multiverse. The task brought fulfillment and purpose to the big man who assisted with logistics, security, and the passage between worlds. Several times a week, the giant crossed over for home-cooked meals and sweet baked goods.

One day Ellie asked Allan. “Have our animal friends ever heard a live song, a melody or music?”

Allan responded, “The birds sing.”

“Ah yes, you’re right, but strings, winds, and drums, they have not.”

Besides amusement, to Ellie and Allan music existed as a medium for mediation. The young couple thought it time to bring the musical habit to Paradise.

One day, the Brothers observed Sam dragging an old truck through the wormhole.

“What do you have there,” Cousin asked.

“The band…”

In the corner of the great room, Ellie and Allan opened the truck revealing an assortment of flutes, recorders, tin whistles, a ukulele, tambourines, small drums, and bongos. Ellie waved a tambourine in one hand and an uku in the other. “Since there’s no TV, radio, Internet, we get easily bored.”

When Cousin observed the enthusiasm over the musical instruments, he said, “Oh there’s more stuff in the attic.”

The musicians in the crowd offered the Brothers music lessons. Initially, the Twins could do little more than bang on drums, but patience and practice brought them to playing melodies on the tin whistles. Sis excelled in all musical applications. Through Red’s extreme pleading, the men lugged an upright piano through the wormhole and down the trail to the lodge. Sam took to drums and rhythm.

An endless bureaucratic inquiry into Doctor Anjawon Brewer’s behavior in Colorado unfolded in the coming months. The rookie healer dangled on paid administrative leave. Nevertheless, the existence of a stem-cell blood type spiked his curiosity and its implications. The obsessive doctor found a trivial entry associating Allan and Ellie with a miner who owned claims outside of Idaho Springs in the mountains.

Tourists traveled thousands of miles to vacation in Colorado. Visitor Anjawon flew into Denver International Airport toting a backpack of camping gear, freeze dried food, a tent and sleeping bag, a map of mining claims and new hiking boots. From the car rental, the amateur explorer drove off in a Jeep. If his hunch did not pan out, a Rocky Mountain camping trip remained.

Mid-morning the suspicious Doc parked at the St. Mary’s Glacier trailhead and hiked up the private road leading to the Simms claims. Upon approaching the locked gate, he chose to walk the fence line up the mountain.

Within in minutes the watchdogs detected his presence and barked up a clamor. The panicked trespasser scurried away to avoid the ruckus.

An unexpected massive Sampson stared down with grounded legs and rifle in hand, accompanied by a pack of scary dogs who growled like wolves. The speechless doctor froze as his heart jumped.

Sampson’s unused voice sounded like grinding rocks.

“Need help?”

“Hello, sir… Hi.” The stammering professional searched for words.

“I am trying to locate Eleanor Rios and Allan Doe.”

“Why?”

“I am a medical doctor. Eleanor and Allan possess a rare special blood type – most unique. Please may I talk to them?”

“Are they sick?”

“No, not at all, they’re very healthy, could be the healthiest people on the planet. Do you know where they are? Can I speak to them?”

Downhill from imposing Sam’s position and posture, the pleasing doctor said, “Let me show you my identification.”

The cautious researcher reached into a shirt pocket for his government ID and inched up until Sam snatched it out of his hand.

Sam tucked the ID in his coveralls and informed, “I will return tomorrow. Pitch your tent here – a level sunny spot with water and a view and wait. Stay away from the fence line. Don’t piss off Canis Lupus; they bite. See ya later, Dr. Brewer.”

Sam retreated into the dense forest. “Come.” The animals withdrew.

On a sunny morning, Ellie and Ela sat together finishing a cup of coffee as the local animals romped in the meadow. The two females acted like twin siblings with Sis often copying Ellie’s mannerisms and dress. The two unselfishly shared Allan’s companionship.

“Come with me and I will show you,” Sister said to Ellie.

Early on Ellie could predict Sister’s words before she spoke and the pair played telepathic communication. Sis was quick to remind; all were capable of the task to some extent.

Ellie followed Sister off the front porch into the field where they approached grazing horses.

The stallion neighed as Sis drew close. The horse nickered, bowed, and the new acquaintances rubbed their heads together.

“I said hello; we are friends. Tell him the same without words.”

Ellie raised and dropped her eyebrows. Hello, I am Ellie and your friend.

The horse lifted a fore hoof, advanced, and sampled her scent. The new pals bowed and rubbed heads.

Sister explained as she scratched the stallion who enjoyed the tickle. “Paradise animals project a conscious identity and will express the same basic emotions as we. They understand instructions and make plans that relate operationally to their specific environment or the task on hand. Their ability to plan for the far future is in a stage of evolution.”

An excited Ellie said, “I’ve got to share this with Allen.”

Ellie looked to the distant porch where Allan sat with the others. Before she yelled over to Allan, Ela interrupted, “Wait, do not call him over – think him over.”

Ellie focused her stare on Allan as her eyes narrowed and her head pivoted forward.

Sister impressed with Ellie’s effort advised, “Ellie as you project the message, breathe out through your nostrils as you send.”

A technique not quite perfected, a purposeful Ellie inhaled, and awkwardly exhaled. Her first attempt failed. Prepared to try again, Allan turned his head in her direction and motioned as to ask, “Who me?”

She said or gestured nothing only to think and project. Allan come here.

He excused himself from the others and strolled over. His arrival earned him a kiss on each cheek from both women.

Sister instructed. “Whenever using telepathic communication, especially with animals possessing their own agenda, purposeful intent is paramount to successful transmission. You must drop the letter in the mailbox, to deliver the message. Writing alone does not send.”

Later that day the three babes in Paradise sauntered to the soothing hot springs. Shedding their clothes, they bathed and frolicked with the local animal residents and spent the day practicing speechless communication, as well as, bathing in the sun and reciprocating with oiled massages. Between the three, no third wheel existed. Removed from the constraints of a moralistic society and left to their innocence, the happy trio hugged and touched freely.

A quiet and absorbed Allan watched the light reflect off the wet, oily bodies of Ellie and Sis – enchanting maidens graceful in form.

The noise of a motorcycle interpreted the moment, but not a surprise.

The sunbathers greeted Sam who said, “Someone on Earth wants to see you guys.”

Doctor Brewer sat idle and bored after a night on the mountain. Morning approached noon when the clamor of voices and dogs alerted Brewer to company. Sam led the way, followed by Allan, Ellie, and Sister and the Twins caring rifles.

Sam said, “Here are Allan and Ellie.”

The two stepped forward with Sister in the rear.

“Welcome Doctor Brewer, I’m Allan, this is Ellie, and our friends Sis, Jacob, and Cousin.”

The clan stared at the medical man expecting an explanation.

The Anjawon took a deep breath. “Thank you for your time; it’s been a long search. I will get to the point. Your rare blood type, if I have the right data from the Pueblo hospital after the accident, harbors naturally occurring stem cells.”

Brewer paused when Ellie and Allan moved toward him.

Ellie smiled and a pleasant Allan requested, “Ellie and I would like to hold your hands, might you oblige us?”

Weird, strange. Whatever they want.

A puzzled Anjawon extended his two arms as if to shake. Allan and Ellie clasped his hands while both stared into his eyes. Sis moved behind the doc and rested her forehead on his back.

Ellie said, “Dr. Brewer, without talking, tell us your thoughts, using only your mind, what do you want to say.”

Crazy peculiar people.

The medical man tried to communicate without words, which for this data-driven scientist was chronologically replaying recent events. Until a flash image, then a looping tape of his mother sobbing over dead grandma on a sofa bed in a two-bedroom apartment, choked the boggled doctor with emotion. He started to tear.

A probing Ellie asked, “What is your intent?”

The perplexed doctor spoke “First do no harm, and heal the sick and poor regardless of race, creed, or color.” He swallowed to moisten his mouth. “I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow… My Hippocratic Oath… My current work for the government and my own personal interests.”

Anjawon paused to step out of his mind to make eye contact. “If my medical assumption is correct, your blood chemistry will influence the future of medical science.”

Allan asked, “Can you be trusted to keep a secret.”

“I don’t know… Is it something horrific, a betrayal, a denial, a murder, an atrocity, a crime against humanity that demands justice? I don’t know out of context.”

A gracious Allan said, “Thank you, Dr. Brewer, you’re an honorable man.”

Ellie released his hand and hugged the noble healer. “I trust you. A pleasure to meet you Doctor.”

Sis kissed the relieved physician on the cheek and said, “My pleasure as well. How is yours?”

“My pleasure is good,” Anjawon replied.

A consoling Allan spoke, “Dr. Brewer, your suspicions about our blood are valid and the stem cell component intriguing and unknown to us.”

Allan referred to the Twins. “Apparently, something is in our blood and yours as well, probably contributes to your longevity.”

“Nice to know,” Jake said while Cousin quipped, “Humanoids rule.”

Jake asked, “Doctor, would you like to join us for lunch? We can talk more. Unfortunately, for now, just as precaution, we’ll have to blindfold you for the trip to our hideout. Do you mind? Are you interested?”

The Doctor nodded yes. “Okay, let’s go.” The persistent investigator needed closure.

Ellie tied a bandana over the doctor’s eyes as Sis clasped his hand and instructed, “Follow my lead, Anjawon.”

After the portal passage, the Paradise Crew removed the blindfold. The mysterious new strangers, the mystique of the journey, the pristine planet, the evolved animals, the ride to the springs, and the sight of the lodge over-whelmed and enchanted the newcomer.

“How can all this be? Where on Earth does anything like this exist?”

Allan responded, “It doesn’t Doc.”

Upon arrival and after introductions to the Hastings and Bennets, the household shuffled the doctor to the dinner table for conversation.

“Can we call you Doc?” Red asked.

“It’s okay. I am a doctor. So I am eating lunch with an odd but pleasant group of people in an extraordinary place and maybe I am dreaming.”

Ajax responded, “You’re right on the first two parts, but you ain’t dreaming.”

“You got a wife and family, Doc,” Maggie asked.

“No wife or kids. I share a house with my extended family in Maryland and keep a small apartment in D.C. for my government job.”

Millie’s turn. “You like your job?”

Doc hesitated, “I think I do – my first real employment out of residency. Investigating medical mysteries are challenging, a dream job for many. Though working for a bureaucracy can frustrate – all the paperwork, chain of command, and turf wars. I just want to eliminate suffering and disease.”

Andy called for a toast. “To Doc’s dream – eliminate suffering and disease.”

The group responded. Glasses up and a gulp.

The flattered dinner guest said, “Thank you, you’re all kind.”

Doc’s face suggested he wanted to say more. “Ah, I’m still confused about your blood type. You implied it is true.”

Jake admitted, “Doc, you are at a disadvantage, not knowing what we know. We apologize.”

Cousin attempted to clarify the conundrum by saying, “We live and cluster in our own private and secretive universe because we have reservations about the continued success of humanity on planet Earth.”

Red cautioned, “The universe and planet Earth stuff will confuse him more.”

Doc glimpsed around the table and said half-jokingly, “You guys sound like we’re on a different planet.”

Silence greeted his remark, but an unavoidable hilarious uproar erupted.

Once the laughter settled down, Ellie sensed the doctor’s discomfort. “We should… We can tell him. He can be trusted. He may choose as we did.”

“What! What! Tell me what?”

Cousin explained. “Please forgive us for our condescending attitudes. You are no longer on the planet Earth, but a parallel universe similar to Earth where humans never evolved, except for our presence, hence this unique environment. You dine in the company of humanoids and enlightened humans whose genetic profile is Earthly and extraterrestrial.”

Once more, the doctor checked faces for laughter as if expecting the joke to be ongoing, but all appeared serious.

“This seems too real to be a dream.”

Allan said, “This is your current reality – stranger than fiction as some would say.”

Ajax interjected, “Doc you are not alone. People at this table went through the same confounding thoughts and feelings you are experiencing now.”

Red played host. “Okay, let’s give this matter time to settle with Doc. I suggest we grab our glasses and move to the front porch with a fermented jug of apple cider.”

Everyone moved except the Doc who sat still and stunned. Sis returned to sit.

Red whispered, “Let the two be.”

On the porch for over an hour, the gathering drank and talked as good friends do. Periodically, Red sneaked to the end of the deck, peaked through the kitchen window, and then reported. “Those two are still talking…” Come sunset, the group broke out instruments and played, sang, and danced. After another peak, Red announced, “They’re gone. Where did the kids go?”

“Look yonder, those two are in the meadow, under the moonlight petting the horses.”

Millie speculated, “I guess a man of science and a humanoid from another world might have something in common or something to talk about. Don’t you think?”

In time, the pair meandered to the front porch, and joined the gathering. Anjawon seemed comfortable with his current state of affairs.

Cousin addressed the doctor. “Considering the time of day, we got a spare room with a comfy bed. Spend the night or a day with us and check things out. I sure one of us could show you around.”

“Thank you, Jake; sounds like fun.”

Red passed the jug to Sis and Doc. “Care for a swig?”

Ajax said, “Smokers to the gazebo.”

Anjawon stayed for a two weeks and returned to Washington, D.C. for an administrative hearing regarding the Wentworth fiasco in Idaho Springs. The U.S. Department of Health terminated the employment of Doctor Anjawon Brewer who returned to Paradise by invitation for an extended stay with several crates of medical equipment.

 

Chapter 34 – Visits

I am crazy. I am sick with mental health problems. I live and move between multiple parallel realities without control. Someday, I might learn to move or pop at will, as told to me by a Quantum Monk. Normal sane people live in one world and talk to psychologists, psychiatrists, ministers, priest, rabbis, preachers, mullahs, etc.

In the beginning, I started writing the stupid book to spare my sanity, vent my run-away brain, and sell books for food and shelter. My sanity is gone and I am a kept man with a dog in a prehistoric monastery. Time and money is not an issue, but now where is my motivation to write?

Days-weeks of staring out a window at drifting clouds, sitting on a riverbank watching water flow, or pacing a long hallway of locked door brought me to boredom. The portal gateway to the Multiverse scared me; I stayed away. One humdrum day, monotony sat me at the table with paper, pen, and ink. What else could I do with myself?

Then at night, I began leaving my body to visit other places, which I recorded in the book.

On my very first trip, Red stood before me. Her sleeves, rolled up, she was kneading bread on a table in the Paradise kitchen. I almost said, “Red, you need help there”

The sweating woman talked as she worked. “… so now, I live in parallel world and find out I married a humanoid. It’s like stepping into a pile of poo barefoot. So I asked myself, what role does God play in all of this?”

She wiped her forehead with apron. “I’ve been a churchgoer on and off, parts of my life. As a young single mother who lost a child to cancer, I sought spiritual counsel and prayed. And just last night, a notion came to me. There are no religions, no Abraham, no Mohamed, no Buddha, no Krishna, and no Jesus here in Paradise. They walked the planet Earth, but none walked this planet – a place untouched by human hands and minds until we arrived. Maybe God does not play a role in Paradise. Perhaps God is leaving the fate of this planet all up to us.”

On a different excursion outside my body or a pop into another world – don’t know. I sat in the Paradise gazebo between the Twins, yes, the brothers Jake and Cousin – at a small round table with a deck of cards, a bottle of Jack Daniels, shot glasses, empty beer mugs and Cousin stuffing the coolest-looking Indian piece pipe with herb. After a light and a hit, he passed it my way. “Home grown, great mountain buzz. It’s the elevation.”

I took a hit and passed it to Jake.

Cousin’s attention drifted to a gathering on the Lodge’s back. He cocked his head to absorb the live acoustic music, then shook his head in amusement. “I feel good about all this. Jacob my brother, Paradise is in good hands. We can go to our graves in peace.”

“That we can Bro, that we can…”

“Whoa,” I said. “I don’t like things ending or dying.” My eyes teared. I woke to Cody licking my face.

I once observed Doc and Sister through a window. I was not peeping just passing by in a dream or popping through worlds. They embraced and talked. Sis, a lab experiment and unpredictable in outcome, was growing into a mature female of considerable intellect. She captured Anjawon’s attention on several levels. Her sexuality emerged as she mimicked Red and Ellie. Her attempts to assimilate brought smiles.

After one specific astral episode, I returned to my prehistoric monastery shocked and guilt-ridden, but yet so euphoric and loved. Hard to believe what happened. In another world, she appeared, so alluring, in the doorway, in the dim light wearing sheer cloth and smiling. A soft touch to my face, then a gentile pull by my fingertips, she led me to her bed without word. I made love to Ellie, an apparition from my imagination, a character on paper, a woman I secretly craved in an alternative reality.

 

Chapter 35 – Consequences

Among an infinite number of worlds, the Paradise enclave gathered outside the capability of alien transport machines and their induced wormholes. Until the Paradise settlement was located and programmed into their transport computers, the aliens would rely on organic wormholes and deception.

As explained to Vito and Benita, the Simms clan worked in the family gemstone business and traveled a lot. The married doctoral students stayed busy. One-day alien phantoms seeking information came to visit.

Vito and Beni cuddled on the sofa streaming an HBO special. The tired couple dozed off in each other’s arms with an empty bowl of popcorn between them.

Vito woke first. A droning white noise disturbed and emanated from all directions. Benita, annoyed by the piercing intrusion, cupped her ears.

“It hurts… It hurts,” she pulled the blanket over head as if it could help.

Vito searched for a source – the hissing buzzed everywhere. The unknown freakish commotion scared as it reached a bizarre pitch. Their ears hurt. The penetrating noisy pain rendered the two unconscious as they hunkered under the covers.

The dim morning light revealed Vito postured in a fetal position. His head throbbed; a stupefied Beni moaned.

Vito embraced Beni. “Are you okay?”

She sobbed, “I’m sorry… I’m so sorry.”

“Sorry about what?”

“I told them everything. They’re in trouble.”

Vito’s first response was to ask, “Who’s in trouble?” but realized they somehow shared the nightmare and wondered. How weird. Demons chase the Simms. Dream the same dream…

Somewhere in the Multiverse, single-purpose disposable combat-engineered humanoids, donning body armor and carrying weapons, marched into the portal of an organic wormhole. Destination is Paradise. Mission is Capture.

One morning during breakfast in the Paradise kitchen, Doc asked Allan, “Might you ride up to the portal and get a UPS package with lab supplies from Sam.”

“Sure.”

Red said, “On the counter there’s bag of chocolate chip cookies for Sam.” Knowing that Allan, Ellie, and Sister usually spent their day together, she also mentioned, “There’s a patch of Arnica nearby in the Aspen grove next to the mine. The yellow flowers are blooming and ready for picking. I’d like to make a tincture for Doc.”

From Paradise on horseback, Allan, Ellie, and Sister accompanied by house pets Rom, Rem, and Kat, traveled the river valley to the portal.

Where or what side of the portal they met Sam stood irrelevant due to the easy passage, but a noon rendezvous remained the norm.

Not seeing Sam on the Paradise side, Allan said, “I’ll see if Sam is close by or on the other side.” Ellie and Sister struck a day camp and hiked off to find the patch of Arnica.

Alan ventured into the mine and into the wormhole for a stroll through the time-space continuum – a pleasant and amusing jaunt for one accustomed.

Allan no longer counted to find Mother Earth. Sometimes he thought… My abused-used planet… Mother Earth, home to a gang of misbehaving self-destructive humans.

His instincts and intuition on alert, the quantum waves disseminating from the cosmic corridors broadcasted their portal origins and identities – if one chose to perceive.

Alan’s body jerked. His attention jumped to cosmic babble spewing out from a particular portal. Help! Help! Came the transmission – a message from a suspicious alluring black hole. Curiosity triggered Allan’s urge to stop and stare into the menacing squirming aperture. Indiscretion prompted Allan to step inside.

The source of this distant alternate reality cried, “Danger! Keep out!” Alan proceeded. The warning persisted. “Beware! Death! Destruction!”

Allan passed through a familiar mine tunnel and arrived at a similar but different Earth where animal bodies lay scattered and dead.

I should leave and get out here.

From somewhere came the screams of Ellie’s voice. “Allan! Allan! Allan!”

Her cry for help unhinged Allan by smothering him in a maze of unexpected fearful emotion. The warnings and the voice of intuition did not stop him.

“Allan! Allan! Allan!” came a plea from the down in the valley.

In this parallel reality, Allan rushed to the Paradise Lodge and dropped to his knees as the remnants of his life – lifeless bodies of friends broke him to sobs.

“Ellie! Ellie!” He rummaged the grounds and the wrecked lodge, but no trace. A frenzied search delivered death and despair.

“Help me,” sounded a muffled plea under a pile of rubble.

Allan, sorting through the debris, located a broke and busted Doc who slipped in and out of consciousness.

“Doc, what happened?”

Anjawon mumbled, “The aliens got Ellie and Sis. We fought… We tried… I’m sorry.” Doc slipped away and died.

The fearful weight griping Allan’s chest surged to rage. A storm of emotions consumed and confused. Get out! Go Back! Allan ran. Get out! Go Back! Allan fled.

Alan departed from the horrific alternative reality he stumbled upon by accident. Now he understood reality required a new definition.

Reality is in the eye of the beholder!

To Paradise he ran, wanting to hold Ellie in his arms and reassure himself she existed.

When Sam did not see Allan at the mine, he crossed over to Paradise. A noisy Harley alerted Ellie and Sister. “Sam’s here.”

When the women appeared and approached the motorcycle, Sister stepped back in a display of avoidance. He killed the engine and greeted, “Howdy.”

“Sam,” the alarmed girl warned, “you bring trouble.”

He dismounted and approached. “What-do-ya mean?”

Sister inched up to the machine with her arms extended and hands flattened. “Your bike is bugged with an alien tracking device.”

“Oh no, can’t be!”

She located a transmitter the size of a dime attached to the bottom of the seat. She removed the contraption and held it out to Ellie. “Feel, sense. Hear the signal?”

“I do,” respond Ellie, “We’ve been duped.”

Sam said, “The Harley knows both sides of the portal – our hideout.”

A chill rolled up Ellie’s spine. “Sam, where’s Allan?”

“I don’t know. I’ll go find him.” Sam mounted the bike, gunned the engine, and roared off into the mine and through the portal.

Out of instinct, Ellie and Sister looked to the skies for flying objects or traveling balls of fire. One muttered, “They attack from the air.”

“I see and sense nothing.”

“Me too.” said Ellie. “Allan will be here soon.”

No noise. The air remained quiet as did the animals who watched and waited. Ellie and Sister’s attention shifted from the sky to the mountainside. Like the low pitch rumble of an approaching freight train, a noise emanated from the mine tunnel and its wormhole – a quantum wave of future events.

“They come for us.”

The horses reared up. Hairs raised and crouched for defense, Rom and Rem growled while Kat wailed a warning.

“Get out of here!”

Ellie and Sister attempted to mount the horses. Before they could settle the animals down, a bolt of energy shot out from the mine and flashed the land surface. The burst collapsed the animals and crashed the women to the ground. Stunned, they tried to stand and run, but failed. Birds took flight. Critters bolted.

Alien boots emerged from the portal and encircled Ellie and Sister who lay stunned and squirming.

In the distance, Allan’s fallen stallion, pierced and bloody by a splinter of wood, stumbled to its feet. The horse took off in a hobbled trot.

The kidnappers deposited Ellie and Sister’s limp bodies into a coffin-like transport device, which levitated above the ground. Booty collected, the kidnappers assembled and returned to the confines of the mine tunnel and into the wormhole. Partial mission accomplished. Retrieve Allan. Terminate accomplices.

Back at Paradise, Cousin standing on the front porch observed Allan’s injured stallion limp in to the front yard. The other local animals observed the wounded horse toss its head and scream. Concerned and alarmed, Cousin banged the assembly bell to gather everyone. The females exited the lodge and the males departed from the barn. The awkward absence of Ellie, Sister, and Allan alarmed.

“Anyone know where they are,” asked Jake.

Red said, “They went to meet Sam.”

Doc tried to settle the stallion. “This horse was knocked off its feet. That’s a lot force.”

“There may be trouble at the portal,” said Cousin, “Gentlemen, let us arm ourselves and ride. Prepare for a fight. Women lockdown the home front.”

Ajax and Andy driving all-terrain vehicles and Jake and Cousin riding horses departed in a rush. The beasts and creatures of Paradise, mindful of the alarm, assembled and followed. All scrambled up the river valley to the mountain portal to the carnage of dead pets, horses, fallen birds, and wasted ground animals.

The Harley, carrying Sam and Allan, roared out of the mine portal. Dismounting and surveying the scene Allan screamed, “No! Where’s Ellie?”

Jake approached and said in a choked voice, “Ellie and Sis are missing.”

The animals flashed mental images of the hostilities. Attack… Enemy… Kidnap… Allan emotions flared into rage.

Ellie, Sis gone. You take from me – steal from me. Nothing. Something. Everything. Nothing again. Turn my Ellie and Sis into lab rats. Fuck you! Kill you! No one does this to me. You will pay. You will die!

A defiant loud Allan announced, “My friends, it’s not over yet. I go to rescue our friends and loves. If I fail, I will extract vengeance – destroy our enemies to preserve Paradise… to preserve the human and mammalian way of life – free will and choice. Understand, death waits for us, but so does a noble mission. Will you ride with me?”

Cousin said, “I lived a long live. I’m in.”

Ajax said, “I’ve lived a short live, but let’s look for Ellie and Sis.”

“Sounds like a good idea,” said Jake

“Okay by me,” said Andy.

Sam said, “I hate the ET bastards.”

The local animals clamored and bellowed a great noise announcing intent and assistance. The horses reared up on back legs – snorting and neighing. The howling wolves stood tall and stiff legged with bristling hackles. Upright, the bears stomped and roared. The big cats shrieked. The mindful animal of Paradise did not read books, but understood birth, death, kin, friend, enemy, peace, and war. The Paradise task force assembled. An uproar of approval resonated from the gathered Earthlings and Paradise mammals.

Allan yelled, “I need a ride.”

With that request, a stallion stepped forward for Allan to mount.

The unearthly collection of rebels stirred to task. Allan jumped the back of his steed. Harley and ATVs rumbled.

Allan’s horse reared up as he shouted, “We muster our strength from the Multiverse. No one universe will defeat us!”

A rowdy gang of horses, wolves, bears, cats, regular and hybrid humans penetrated into the meandering vacillating guts of the wormhole.

In the lead, a perceptive Allan on a galloping stallion scurried past the infinite number of irrelevant portals. Not thinking or knowing why, the desperate man-child, entangled with Ellie and Sis’s quantum waveforms, sensed their presence and location. He knew his captive friends and the enemy were still traveling in the wormhole and not far away.

The liberating horde of emancipators barreled through the oscillating passageway whose motion rolled them up the sides like a gush of liquid down a squirming drain. A rushing glare of color, light, and shadows sometimes blinded which forced them to trust the moment and damn caution.

The marching combat-engineered aliens approached a portal to an orphan planet housing their humnoid research facility. In tow, a comatose Ellie and Sister faced incarceration as lab animals and dissection.

Allan spied a file of preceding aliens materializing in the distance. The twisting and uncurling wormhole revealed glimpses of the convoy.

Tail guard technology alerted ET of a rear attack. Half of the procession broke pace and reversed direction forming a blocking formation. The genetic monstrosities extended hand weapons forward – ready to fire.

Behind Allan, the roaring, rolling assault of mammalian-brained irregulars thundered to the rescue.

The defending extraterrestrials launched a jolting wave of energy that bounced off the wavering sides of the wormhole as it hurtled down the tube. Allan perceived its imminent arrival. Clutching the torso of the horse with legs, the audacious kid erected his physique in defiance and rage. The blast discharged as a great bolt of lightning knocking Allan and horse to ground.

The Paradise crew watched in horror at the assumed demise of Allan, but linear alien thinkers were no match for human fortitude.

A second fiery burst slammed into the passion-infused determination of a young humanoid from New York City. Allan stood strong, without his knowledge, he mustered the quantum power afforded to him inside a wormhole. Maneuvering in the time-space continuum and using the tools of free will and choice, Allan possessed the power and invincibility of a god – to manipulate the laws of physics.

The enraged youthful warrior shouted, “It ain’t over!”

Allan took to his legs and charged forward.

Once again, the alien combat clones detonated another electrifying force designed to annihilate the complete band of bothersome rebels.

Boom!

“No!” Allan commanded.

The essence of his mindful and physical constitution – human will power deflected the burst of obliterating energy backwards against the shocked aliens and scattered them like bowling pins.

Allan on foot, Ajax and Cousin on horseback, Sam on the Harley, Ajax and Andy on ATVs and a wild pack of animals trampled and vaulted over the fallen and retreating aliens. The creatures, bred to be silent, squealed like slaughter pigs. The Paradise avengers rushed to the main body of fleeing aliens now close to their home portal and refuge.

Sam gunned the blaring war bike to the lead. The angry big guy sought revenge. He snatched a length of chain hanging from the cycle – a biker’s weapon. Swinging his tool of vengeance, he whipped, bashed and thrashed. The raging animals stomped, chopped, and ripped. The surprise blitz over-whelmed the now defending aliens who possessed no contingency plan for human gumption and ingenuity.

The Paradise shock troops chased the beleaguered alien terrorists back to their unearthly universe. In the mayhem, the confused aliens dropped the container containing Ellie and Sister, now tossed free in the commotion.

Allan recovered Ellie and Sister’s bruised and battered bodies. Sister stirred, but Ellie did not move. He cuddled her in his arms.

“Ellie, please come back to me,” he pleaded.

Ellie opened her eyes, smiled, and grimaced. “Allan,” she took a breath, “here you are to rescue me. My humanoid in shining armor.”

“Let’s get you out of here, Honey.”

The alien portal, high on the mountain slope, a checkpoint facility, guarded and regulated access to the Multiverse. The research facility lay down in a basin with urban-like structures towering in a hazy sky filled with morphing lights of color.

The melee at the wormhole alerted alien headquarters to a security breach. Aliens and smoke spilled from the besieged entryway. Alarms rang.

From down in the basin, a focused beam illuminated the exterior of the mountainside and the portal opening. The aliens took aim.

Buzz… Ignition-Zap-Kaboom! A great blast of energy.

The frantic disorientated aliens missed their target and disintegrated a chunk of the mountain. Debris flew in all direction. An attack from an Earth was not probable. Earthlings did not possess the technology for cosmic travel.

The next blast could kill everyone and terminate a dream for a better hopeful world. Allan shouted, “It ain’t over!” He jumped to his feet. Strong, solid, tall, and extended, he blocked the portal aperture to shield his friends. Once more, as a force shield, his mind and body would deflect and return its impact back on to the enemy.

Because I choose!

The extraterrestrials fired dead center on the obstinate and quantum-infused Allan. A horrific pain permeated the savior’s being as electricity zapped his physique and psyche. For a scant moment, he wondered if he was dying.

I live. You die. Reap the evil you sow.

Backfire – a humongous bolt of energy recoiled into the alien valley extinguishing lights, collapsing structures, and igniting fires.

A revitalized Sister spoke to Ellie. “Dear girlfriend, we’re going home.”

“Get Ellie out of here,” shouted Ajax to Allan. “I’ll take over.”

Cousin advised, “We got your back, Allan.”

A horse stood ready to ride. Allan, with Ellie tucked in his arms, galloped off into the time-space continuum, down a wormhole, to another universe, and home.

A calculating Ajax fiddled with his backpack.

Sam called to the busy fellow, “Let’s go Ajax.”

Out of his pack, Ajax removed the breadbox alien bomb. As described by Sis, “… an explosive device with the power of a small sun.”

A mischievous Ajax instructed, “Hey Sammy, you guys and the animals get going. I’ll be along.”

“What are you do’in?”

Ajax replied, “A consequence for the damn aliens.”

“Oh shit, you’re gonna nuke them.” Sam ordered, “Okay gangbangers, let’s skedaddled out of here. This place is going to blow!”

A protective Sis remained. “You might need help getting back.”

Shaped like a gallon paint can with a keypad stuck on top, Ajax perched the bomb at the edge of the destroyed burning portal overlooking the alien valley. After punching in a code, he paced himself from the device like a field goal kicker.

A deep breath, the sign of the cross, and a hopeful human foot connected with the weapon. The Montgomery High Rams all-star football player launched a kick for humanity that sailed high into the heavens.

Ajax and Sis fled on speedy horses.

The atomic explosion ignited an enormous fireball that disintegrated everything in the alien city, as well as, pulverizing the surrounding mountains. The rising smoky ruble from the bang turned the sky black. The land quaked, and the atmosphere rumbled – one alien culture in turmoil. A humanoid’s worst nightmare and self-fulfilling prophecy comes true – fear the humans on Earth.

Consequence delivered.

A hurdling horse and anxious Allan rushed an injured Ellie home. Through the wormhole maze, charging about the Multiverse, and out the portal, an alarmed young man and his dying lover returned to the asylum of Paradise.

A clinging Ellie rested her head in the crevice of his neck.

“Ellie, we’ll be home soon.”

“Allan I don’t want to leave you,” she whispered.

“Honey, we’ll get you home where you can rest and heal up. We’ll stroll through the meadow, pick flowers, and visit with the animals.”

“I love you,” she uttered.

Jake pointed. “Here comes Doc, up the trail.”

Allan feared the worst when he felt her body go limp.

“Ellie don’t leave me, we’re almost home.”

In the eye of Allan’s mind, an enlightened and healthy Ellie hovered above.

I love you, Allan.

She affirmed. Allan, I love you.

Smiling Ellie waved… drifted farther… more distant… farther away.

I love you.

At the bubbling hot springs, everyone met.

“Doc!” Allan wailed.

Doc, with his bag in hand, rushed and checked Ellie’s arm for a pulse. “Get her down on the ground so I can work on her.”

Doc immediately stabbed a hypodermic needle into her heart and another in her vein. He began chest compressions; blew air into her lungs. Time passed and dragged; Doc would not let death rule the day.

Ellie’s friends, human and animal, gathered in vigil and waited. The longer they waited, the farther she slipped away. Allan rested back on his knees and wept.

After a considerable amount of time, a sweaty Doc pulled back.

“I’m sorry Allan.”

The broken kid wept over the person who was teaching him how to love unconditionally.

Sister embraced Allan. “Ellie lives in our hearts, thoughts, and dreams.”

Allan gazed to the sky. The mist and the steam from the hot springs rose above him. The vapors formed clouds that drifted away in the breeze. Once more, he heard her voice and saw her face.

Allan, I love you… We live forever, Sweetheart… See ya…

 

Chapter 36 – Wasted

They buried Ellie in the front meadow where all could greet her from the porch. For the next few days, Allan, in the company of animals, rested against the simple gravestone Sam carved. Then no one caught a glimpse of Allan, not even for meals. The wrapped sandwiches Maggie left out in the kitchen disappeared. Sobs seeped through his closed bedroom door. Doc considered medication.

Early in the day, a sneaky Allan attempted to slip out without notice. Maggie bumped into the secretive kid in the dim morning light and screamed.

“Oh, dear God, Doc help. Doc, get in here!”

Ulcerations blistered Allan’s red scorched face and skin. During the epic alien battle, when Allan deflected the alien death ray, he absorbed the nuclear radiation of an atom bomb. By normal standards, he should be dead or will be.

Doc pumped him up with extra stem cells gathered from Sister. The ailing hero disappeared like an old animal wandering off to die. Not seen in several days, folks wondered if he passed. The Paradise family met to weigh interventions and locate Allan.

Sister said, “I will talk to the animals. They must know where he is… alive or his remains.”

Red said, “Their birthdays are coming up. Ellie and Allan were born one year apart in the same month – bake a cake and celebrate two lives or light a candle and mourn?”

Suddenly, a feeble Allan tottered into the room – surprise and shock!

His scabby skin leaked fluids. Patches of hair fell out. He looked like a burn victim or walking case of leprosy.

“Oh, Allan…”

Folks cried at the sight.

“Please don’t touch me, it hurts.” He set two packages on the table and said, “Birthday presents.” A purposeful Allan paused for composure. “I checked our mail and discovered Ellie sent me a birthday gift – home-made.” He passed around the packages. “And so did I, sent her a gift I made. We did so without talk.”

Red opened a box and displayed a hairbrush made from horsehair. “Oh, this is cute. It’s engraved.” She read, “Dear Ellie, you are my Eve in the Garden of Paradise.”

Jake opened a parcel and disclosed a Native American peace pipe. “Wow, what a coincidence,” He read, “Dear Allan, you are my Adam in the Garden of Paradise.”

Red asked, “Neither of you knew what the other was giving or doing?”

“Yah I guess; we do read each other’s mind.” Allan said, “We believed Paradise would be the birthplace of our children.”

Allan smiled to say, “Ellie and I are entangled and shared the same destiny. It cannot end with a dead Ellie and Allan. In this crazy weird Multiverse, Ellie still exists. Somewhere we live on together – in a slightly different parallel world. I will find her.”

The room settled into a long silence that begged someone to speak.

Allan continued, “The wormholes will take me to another place, time, and Ellie.”

Sister offered her chair. “Allan, please sit, rest, and listen. Your agony requires I speak.”

He sat to say, “Dear friend, please do.”

She said, “Yes, Ellie and Allan survive in other probable parallel universes and wormholes allow transit to other worlds in the Multiverse, but your conscious mind exists in only one reality – one place at a time.”

“So what’s the problem?”

“Some dimensions beyond four allow travel to probable realities where Allan and Ellie exist, but you can only observe and watch. The higher dimensions allow integration into a singular probable reality where Allan and Ellie exist, but your conscious mind will assimilate into the Allan of that reality.”

“Do I forget?” he asked.

Sister said, “I don’t know. It’s all theoretical math. Your conscious mind acting as the observer creates the reality of the moment.”

“What about time travel?”

Sister shook her head no. “Returning to a precise moment back in time is an ill-advised haphazard complex task.”

Allan raised his voice. “I was just there in another world where Alan and Ellie also existed.”

Sister knelt next to the depleted boy to say, “Yes, an alternative reality where Allan and Ellie were dead and no longer existed. You were observing the consequences of a probable alternative reality.”

Sister continued, “Organic wormhole travel to predetermined destinations is clumsy and limiting. Consider Paradise a favorable accidental encounter.”

Allan offered, “Ya… Maybe… Kind’da.”

Millie said, “Travel to other worlds is one matter, but would you snatch another Ellie from another Allan – steal from yourself in a different reality? What might your kidnapped Ellie say?”

Allan sunk into the chair and mumbled, “I’d break my other self’s heart. Shame on me.”

Alan did not stir. Doc checked his pulse and proceeded to inject some stuff into his vein. “We should get this guy on fluids.” Doc ran for a bag of plasma.

Cousin said, “Let’s find another Ellie in a world where you died or were never born.”

“Who’s to say she’d be the same person,” said Maggie. “Was not Ellie some of what you both created in a relationship?”

Allan lifted his head to acknowledge. “An operational and moral dilemma.” His torso dropped to the table and passed out. They carried him to bed for a night’s rest. Friends took turns sitting at the bedside of a delirious Allan. All feared for the worst. Morning found a sleeping Doc next to a vacant bed.

Allan slipped into a wormhole and vanished into the Multiverse.

 

Into the abyss I wander.

Where it ends, I do not know.

A-freak of the Multiverse,

this orphan goes.

Nothing expected.

Naught to lose.

 

Chapter 37 – Knowing You

Many, many days, months or years – a long time passed, but I followed instructions. Feather pen, ink bottle, and parchment, every day all day I wrote isolated in a cosmic safe house somewhere in time and space. By hand, from the beginning, I penned a story about a science fiction writer who struggled with his sanity when the parallel worlds he created collided with reality. I wrote about Allan and Ellie who discovered each other and a Multiverse – a contemporary sci-fi romantic adventure where assorted realities and wormholes exist. It took a long time to write. I made mistakes, got sloppy, got lazy, started over and over, but the moment came when I finally wrote, “The End.”

I sat at the table staring at the completed manuscript. Tears from my eyes blurred the ink on my title page. Ellie is dead and Allan clings to life – an unhappy ending, a story of abandonment, lost love, and survival in an unforgiving declining world. All my fault or doing because, I wrote it.

Solitude interrupted. “Hello, looking for a Bug Boy named Grasshopper, we need to talk.”

Startled, I jumped to my feet – a visit from my long-gone monky-advisor, the strange old man with his annoying ways. “No Monkman, you need to read something. Look!” I picked up all the parchment and slammed the heavy stack to the table. “I’m done. Just like you wanted. Read the damn book. You like unhappy endings?”

“No, that’s why I’m here.”

“Explain your obsession with me writing this book. What was the point?”

“I remind. You began the book before we met.”

“Okay, you’re right, but what is your role in this dream or hallucination or warped version of reality? Frickin aliens, wormholes, stuck in a jail cell way-way back in time!”

“You are entangled with Allan and Ellie… and others.”

“Entangled you say. What the hell does that mean you crazy old fart? Assuming you’re sane and real.”

“You and Allan have a lot in common. You two share knowledge about the Multiverse. But you know more than Allan. Considering his predicament, he is at a disadvantage. Will you help Allan?”

“Here we go again. Did you have another book in mind – maybe a trilogy? No more deals with you until I get the details and an explanation.”

Monk moved to the table and pointed to a facing chair. For the first time we sat close-eyed. Cody, standing near, listened.

He said, “Forget organic and technical wormholes. No one has told Allan that travel in the Multiverse exists through conscious human choice using a quantum computer called the human mind. Recall my early words – reality is where your conscious mind resides.”

“Will you tell him?”

“Right now my conscious mind is staring at hooded crackpot dressed in a robe. You want me to talk an imaginary character I made up – loosely based on myself to soothe my suffering ego.”

Monk leaned in to reveal. “In a Multiverse of infinite probable and improbable worlds, many Allans exist as quantum waveforms in perpetual motion for eternity. As the observer, you snatched one of Allan’s realities and snuck a peak. He’s out there.”

“How about Ellie, all the others, and Paradise?”

“Yes. What you think exists somewhere out there. The human mind creates.”

“Since you know so much, why don’t you tell Allan.”

“I do. That’s my job.”

“What? Explain your job.”

“A multitude of circumstances and a number of choices created all those different Allans. A specific set of parameters and accompanying choices creates its own world or game. Most Allans fail, lead miserable lives, and die tragic deaths, though some Allans succeed. As a Quantum Monk, I heal and tend to the sick Allans.”

“Why should you care about Allan?”

Monk maintained his stare as he eased back into his seat. “I am Allan tending to my own wounds. As a time-space traveler, I render aid to the Allans of the Multiverse. Regardless of my alien genes and bastard human nature, tumultuous life circumstances, and my poor choices, I work to be a better person. My quest – to heal all Allans so we may love and live in peaceful worlds throughout the Multiverse. A self-serving venture, I acknowledge, but I am evolving.”

“Oh shit Monk, this sounds like tripe in a comic book. This is too-too weird.”

“Yes, Allan it may be. In this reality, you tend to be a brick-thick reluctant learner. If I succeed with my mission, this encounter, you will embark on a similar journey.”

I dropped my head and remained silent. I am Allan talking to Allan.

Eventually, I asked, “Any advice?”

“Void yourself of ego and identity. Practice humility, it opens the mind’s eye. Temper your spirit knowing the Multiverse lives before you. Exist as a Quantum Monk.”

I nodded my head in disbelief. “So you want me to help Allan.”

Monk was standing behind me when his hand touched my shoulder. A zap caused me to jerk. He said, “Help Allan and Ellie.”

My body tingled. “Wow Monk, Ellie is out there too.” My mind erupted into a million potential scenarios. An Ellie for me… an operational and moral dilemma.

I heard. “Time for me to go.” Monk stood in the doorway.

“Will I see you again,” I asked.

“We’re entangled.” He gave me a salute and a nod. “Good bye, Allan.” He flashed a genuine smile for the first time and left.

I chased him out to the hallway. As his silhouette disappeared, I yelled, “Hey Bug Boy, you take care… Goodbye Grasshopper!”

 

Chapter 38 – Rendezvous

Allan gathered things and packed the manuscript into his backpack. He said, “Cody Dog, ya wanna go for a hike?”

Cody woofed back.

Out the door, down the way hall, through the portal and into the wormhole, Allan and Cody took off for a rendezvous somewhere in the Multiverse.

“Hey Buddy, remote access… our good fortune.”

Cody said, “Woof.”

 

 

The End

 

 

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Remote Access

  • ISBN: 9781310380464
  • Author: Cory Camalari
  • Published: 2015-10-24 05:05:24
  • Words: 64023
Remote Access Remote Access