Windhaven 11 – click here for the full page

Windhaven 11

I usually write about supernatural stuff or mystery/thrillers. Windhaven might have some thrills but no mystery and no vampires or trips to hell (see my other books.) It’s a survival adventure that could happen any day now. I’m not doing official chapters every post, just whenever. The numbers are to keep it all in order, for you and me. Comments and suggestions are always welcome as long as you know that I may or may not follow them.
To start Windhaven from the beginning go HERE.

What If?s

What If when a particular person was killed her soul would jump to the nearest person, the person who killed her. She wouldn’t have outright control of the new body, just varying levels of influence. Just enough make the killer step in front of a bus or jump off a roof. She’s been doing it for a long time, met some nasty people and some good people. She now picked the way the bad ones died, so she’d be close to a good person, who she might influence for good. But there’s one very bad killer, maybe he murdered a friend, and she searches for him, so he will kill her, and then she can punish him.  What If there was a detective on is trail, too? Or, on her trail?

What If a woman reports that her boyfriend is missing. An officer is sent to get information. It turns out that the boyfriend is a ghost. She says he comes and goes through a closet. The officer likes the woman, though he thinks she’s a bit nuts. He looks in the closet, nothing weird. He steps in – and finds himself in a netherworld of ghosts and spirits.

He’s freaked out, but intrigued. The officer’s brother died a year ago, but he always felt that the brother was still around, wanting to tell him something. So, on his own he does some research and reenters the closet, searching for the boyfriend, who in life had his own secrets, and his brother. The woman goes in with him and turns out not to be so nuts during their netherworld adventure.

 

Windhaven  11

Tons of cold water smashed him against the wheel then the roiling water plucked him up and tumbled him about like inside a salty, freezing clothes washer. His safety harness bit into his shoulders, yanking him back. Water buffeted him about, attempting to knock the air out of his lungs and drown him.

Somehow he held in the air. He wasn’t going to drown. He wasn’t going to die. He had something, someone to live for. As the water attempted one more time to yank him away from the boat, squeezing his last breath out, the water let him go.

He crashed down on the helm. A flash of pain bit his left wrist. His head smacked the edge of the cockpit. The full cockpit sloshed him about as he gasped for air.

“Ahhh,” he cried out, grasping for a solid handhold.

Windhaven slid out of control down the back of the freak wave. The reefed mainsail had split in half. The boom traveler had been ripped from the deck and swung widely, crashing into the two aft shrouds.

Noah struggled through dizziness to gain his feet. He held on with his one good hand as the next wave picked up the stern and threw it aside. With no guidance Windhaven broached, turning broadside to the wave. She rolled ninety degrees, the masthead touching the water as the wave broke over her. The cockpit filled as The cold, dark water flowed from the cockpit through the hole left by the torn loose traveler.

She righted herself in the trough between waves. Noah, knowing another broach would sink the boat, forced himself to take control of the helm. Wind caught the mast and torn sails. The boat made some headway. Noah threw the wheel over as the new wave tried to broach her. His actions reversed the broach though allowing the wave to break over the stern. Wheezing, coughing, freezing, in pain, Noah wrestled Windhaven from disaster.

Half filled with water Windhaven wallowed in the seaway, yet fought with Noah to maintain a steady course. Breathing easier, expecting help from below any second, Noah surveyed the damage.

The mast still stood, though the aft lower shrouds were loose due to the constant beat by the swinging boom. The whole traveler apparatus slammed into the deck with each swing, gouging the deck and cabin top. The stainless steel array over the stern that sprouted with all the radar, radio and satellite communications antennas had bent almost double, shattering much of the equipment.wrecked boat1

The mainsail was ripped horizontally from mast to leech. The headsail clew was ripped off, the rest tatters blowing forward by the forty, fifty knot winds.

Noah searched for Ricky and Ivan. There were no signs of them, they must have made it down below. Then why hadn’t he heard from any of the crew?

Windhaven shuddered as the boom swung against the rigging again. Once he had the helm in hand, to secure the boom was a top priority, not only for the rigging, but each time it whipped the traveler over the deck it opened the hole bigger and if anybody was incautious enough to exit the companionway without looking could easily have their head taken off.

Fighting through the dizziness and deep chill, he determined that the only way to secure the boom would be to get a line around the end and use a winch to hold it in place. Tangled lines were strewn about the cockpit. He picked out a suitable line, timed the waves then locked the wheel and staggered to a winch and quickly, with one hand, unwound the line and returned to the wheel in time to navigate another wave.

His left hand had no strength to it and hurt like hell, but after several tries he fashioned a fixed loop large enough to throw over the boom end.

“Hey. Anybody. Hey!”

The sun had set. All lights were out. Thirty to forty foot waves still crashed around him. Occasional thin breaks in the streaming clouds offered an occasional glimpse of moonlight. Noah attempted to get his breathing under control. “Hey!” No answer. He had never felt so alone.

Using his innate feel of the boat’s motion Noah attempted to loop the line around the end of the boom. On his fourth try he succeeded. Quickly he took the line he’d already run through a fixed block and whipped it around a winch. The effort took him away from the helm too long. Windhaven skipped sideways, knocking him down, but the boom was minimally secured.

Noah crawled back to the helm and spent five minutes planning his next move.

“Hello! Anyone?” Surely, someone must be conscious.

With another line Noah secured the boom with a second line to the opposite side of the boat. A few minutes later of shivering and pain he pushed through the water still filling the cockpit faster than it could drain and knelt by the open companion way hatch. Inside, no light, no movement except for three or four feet of water sloshing side to side with each roll of the boat.

“Hello!” Noah shouted, though his voice came out as a dry croak. “Is anybody there? Please, is anybody in there? Tommy, Ivan, Larry? Answer me.”

He heard no sounds from below except water splashing and the sound of debris knocking on the bulkheads. Tears formed in his eyes as fear and loss and loneliness settled over him like a black cloak.

Beside the helmsman’s seat there was a flip up plastic cover. Underneath was a socket for an eighteen inch handle that worked a manual bilge pump. He found the handle still secured. With his bad, probably broken, left hand he almost unconsciously kept Windhaven stern to the seas. With his right hand he worked the bilge pump. One full movement of the handle pumped out one gallon of water.

He kept asking himself why he continued to pump. One gallon out of hundreds or thousands of gallons. What difference would one, two, three… gallons make? No solid water was flowing in, but the spray from breaking waves and gusting winds and probably a leak or two or three from inside were replacing the gallon he removed. Why bother? Why put off the inevitable?

Because that would mean giving up, and years ago Noah had learned to never give up. He was one of the smartest in his high school class. Algebra baffled him. His father told him that if he wanted a car when graduated he had to get a B or better on his final exam. He wanted to give up, but he wanted the car. It was up to him. He studied, to little effect. He finally checked his pride and asked a girl in his class to tutor him. She made algebra make sense. He got a B+ on the exam, the car, and the girl. His writing career was built on hundreds of rejections. Jobs he wanted, the wife he wanted, the boat he wanted – persistence pays.

He wanted to live, he wanted that girl. So he pumped.

At first Noah thought about how to rig some sort of self steering. There were ways to use the wind direction on the sails to turn the wheel. He thought about Linda. He thought about books he wanted to write. He thought about his crewmates. Between, he thought about thirst, cold, hunger, exhaustion.

While he thought the night marched on. Imperceptibly, the clouds thinned, the wind slacked, the waves calmed, Windhaven wallowed less. Throughout, Noah pumped and steered.

The sun had not rising above the horizon when a the playful slap of an errant wave jolted Noah awake. His head hung under cover of his rain gear hood. His right hand, frozen and still, gripped, the pump handle. His left hand rested unmoving on a spoke of the wheel. His only movement the partial lifting of his eyelids and the slow roving of his eyes, his first real look at the destruction.

eyes 1

Then, his eyes opened slowly opened, fixing on movement in the damaged companionway. A face there, unidentifiable, pale, ragged.

Someone.

Alive.

Loneliness slipped off his shoulders like a heavy cloak.

 

Comment and suggestions are welcome – dcburtonjr@gmail.com

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Windhaven 10

I usually write about supernatural stuff or mystery/thrillers. Windhaven might have some thrills but no mystery and no vampires or trips to hell (see my other books.) It’s a survival adventure that could happen any day now.  I’m not doing official chapters every post, just whenever.  The numbers are to keep it all in order, for you and me.  Comments and suggestions are always welcome as long as you know that I may or may not follow them.

To start Windhaven from the beginning go HERE.

 

 

WHAT IFs?

What If? you were a Demon Hunter (like Sam and Dean, say) and were taking a cruise to relax from the rigors of keeping all things supernatural in check? What If? the Devil (or one of his minions) was on board (first class of course) planning to make the ship a Shipships3 of the Dead? So when you start seeing the Dead walking (groan) you have to find the Devil (or his minion who might be making a play to upstage his boss) and stop his, or her, shenanigans so your whole vacation isn’t ruined! Bummer.

 

I had a dream the other night sort of about rounding up all the stray dogs and putting them down. What If? we had, say, a well meaning leader who gave a damn about dogs and people and he/she started a program that each neighborhood, block, cul-de-sac and the like would adopt a dog or two or three and train them to watch over their area. dogs2Great, but over time, What If? the dogs took on too much power. Soon they ran their areas. When there were puppies each family had to raise one to add to the Dog Security Force. Certain Dog Leaders might become more interested in gaining doggy wealth and power and want to take over other areas, Dictator Dogs. dogs 1Soon the humans might be forced to fight the Dog’s wars. Until, a Dog leader, slightly different from the others, smart and compassionate, finally brings peace between Dogs and Humans.

 

 Windhaven 10

After a month and seven thousand miles Windhaven has passed New Zealand’s South Cape and cut off about seven hundred fifty miles of the 4700 miles between the South Cape and cape Horn. Only four thousand more miles and they can turn north to warmer weather.

They were third only three hundred miles behind second place Newsboy who was behind Global by less than a day. One boat had had damage to its rudders and returned to South Africa. The other three were days behind with their own race.

Windhaven had a few problems as they pushed Eastward while dropping into the Furious Fifties Latitudes. A lower shroud broke. An inspection of the others found two more also needed replacement. The hydraulic steering began to leak in one of the most inaccessible areas. Repairs took almost a day. The 120% Genoa foresail ripped in half. They had to use a smaller sail which slowed them down three knots of speed for a day.

The scariest moment came at dusk with Ricky at the helm and they were doing a steady twelve knots through a choppy gray sea. Leigh shared the watch with him, her hard gray eyes constantly assessing wind and sea. Looking forward, for a half second she thought she saw something dead ahead. She jumped up, ran twenty feet forward. There a large shape. Shit! “Ricky! Hard to port! Hard to port! Now!”

Ricky had known Leigh for almost twenty years. He trusted her experience and intelligence completely. If she said, “Hard to port, now!” he wasn’t going to second guess her for one second. He spun the wheel hard to port, ignoring the shouts of alarm from below.

Leigh walked back, pointing at the huge, flat iceberg racing past. The abrupt turn sent the aft end slipping to starboard where it bumped against the ice and rose up as if to jump on the iceberg and possibly damage the twin rudders. Taking advantage of his own experience he spun the wheel to starboard. The rudders bit in and sent the stern skittering to port to clear the ice by inches.

Red popped up out of the companionway. “What the Hell’s going on?”

Leigh and Ricky pointed at the receding iceberg. A last burst of light reflected off the hundred meter by fifty meter block of ice.

Alain and Noah rose up in time to catch a glimpse. “Mon Deux. Did we hit it?”

Ricky said, “I think we bumped it. If it hadn’t been for Leigh’s sea eyes we’d be on top of that sucker with a big ass hole in the bow.”

“Good job, both of you.”

Leigh stood beside Red, both looking aft at the now invisible ice.

“That’s too close for comfort, Red.”

“Yeah. Larry, what’s our latitude, right now?”

Fifteen seconds later Larry said, “Fifty-one degrees, forty-six minutes South, Skipper. Icebergs have been reported farther north than this.”

“Get us up North of fifty degrees. Three man watches at night.”

 

One of the continuous storms that circle the Southern Sea unimpeded had caught up with Windhaven. Sixty knot winds and twenty-five foot plus seas lashed the boat and Noah at the helm. Bigger winds and seas were a definite possibility according to Larry’s weather data. Oppressive dark clouds blotted out the sky. The sun had set, its last vestige of light fading fast.

At the moment, Noah was not thinking about icebergs or weather or water. He’d been on the helm for almost two hours, his safety harness clipped on to a U-shaped stainless steel tube over the compass, was beginning to get uncomfortable. He’d found the rhythm of boat and wave. The rise as a wave lifted the aft end, the brief surfing down the face of the wave, the balancing act as the wave passed underneath, the drop of the stern as the boat slid down the wave’s back side; The increase of the wind at the top of the wave, the slight reduction in the trough, waiting a few seconds for the next wave, and the next and the next. His hands moved the wheel almost automatically. He kept an unconscious eye on Ricky and Ivan on the forward deck discussing a sail change.

Noah wasn’t thinking of that, he was thinking about Linda. The last scheduled streaming had been cut short by technical difficulties. But, he’d got a good look at her smiling at him. She’s the one had flitted in and out of his thoughts. A ridiculous thought after a one night stand, though a memorable one. They had fit. Whether the first kisses in his boat, lying side by side in his bunk, on the top or on the bottom, they fit. She was smart and well read, liked sailing, and they had many common interests. And her smile just lit him up.

That’s what he was thinking of when the rhythm changed.

The rise of the wave seemed stunted, the wind suddenly shifty. The slide down the backside less steep. The constant roar of breaking waves muted. The trough wider. Noah felt the wave before he saw it rise and rise and rise like a grim specter in his peripheral vision.

wave3

For a moment he froze. This couldn’t be happening to him, now.

“Ricky, Ivan get off the deck,” Noah screamed. Then, like a high speed elevator, Windhaven rose up, stern first.

In an instant Windhaven tilted bow down forty-five degrees. Over the hiss of a massive volume of water building behind him, Noah heard the crash and cries from below decks.

Though taking only seconds, for Noah time slowed. Instead of pounding out of his chest he felt his heart rate slow as he was thrown against the steering wheel; as he watched Ricky and Ivan scramble on deck for the companionway; as the boom slammed to port sending a shudder throughout the boat.

Windhaven rose to almost vertical. Noah stared down into the bottom of the trough maybe twenty feet past the bow. They were going to pitch pole, he knew it. If he stayed tethered to the helm as Windhaven pitched over he’d fall almost a hundred feet and be driven under with the stern. When, if, the boat resurfaced, he’d probably be dead.

If he unclipped his life line he’d be separated from the boat. If it resurfaced, he’d be separated from it, unlikely to reconnect. In the forty degree water he’d also die, just a little slower.

Lying flat on the now horizontal wheel he twisted back and forth as the gigantic wave tossed him about. Maybe that’s what did it, but as he looked up at the huge breaking wave about to throw the boat over, the stern broke through. Its weight sliced through the top of the wave. For a second Noah thought, we’re going to survive!

Then the wall of solid water on either side crashed down on him.

 

Comments and suggestions are welcome – dcburtonjr@gmail.com

Please check out my other books at — https://davidburtonwriting.com

Windhaven 9

I usually write about supernatural stuff or mystery/thrillers. Windhaven might have some thrills but no mystery and no vampires or trips to hell (see my other books.) It’s a survival adventure that could happen any day now.  I’m not doing official chapters every post, just whenever.  The numbers are to keep it all in order, for you and me.  Comments and suggestions are always welcome as long as you know that I may or may not follow them.

To start Windhaven from the beginning go HERE.

 

 

A couple WhatIf?s first –

WHAT IF?

 What if there were vampires in the crew of a spaceship on a years long migration voyage with the humans in stasis. Part of the deal was for the humans to donate blood for the vamps in exchange for them to maintain the ship and the migrants as well as navigate and handle problems. But What If? something went  wrong and all the humans died. Vamps may be immortal, but they still need blood. What happens when they don’t have any and they are years away from any human contact? If there was only one left what would his or her last message be to Earth or their destination?

What if a man (man1) doesn’t know he’s immortal until he dies. During the short time he’s dead he loses his chance with the woman he loves. For years he searches for her only to learn that she has died. But then he sees her and realizes that she is immortal, too. But, thinking the immortal man is dead, she is with another man. What would man1 and the woman do? Murder, affair, wait? They do, after all, have forever to be together.

 

 

Windhaven 9

Windhaven was into the Southern Sea under a grey overcast sky. Those on deck,  Noah and Thomas, wore full raingear with plenty of warm clothing underneath. A forty knot wind held steady behind Windhaven, driving the sailboat through dark, foam streaked ten to twelve foot seas at the boat’s maximum of twenty-two knots. Spray continually soaked the deck.

Thomas fought the helm as the waves seemed to come from different direction. Noah hunched on a cockpit seat nearby trying to avoid the spray each time the boat slammed into a wave.

Below, the rest of the crew huddled around a computer on the settee table for a streaming session with kids, including Everheart Middle School.

“You picked a nasty day to call us,” Ivan, his long face bristly with a thin brown beard, told the children. “It’s cold, it’s wet, it’s blowing forty plus knots, it’s rough, and it’s gonna be pitch dark soon. But,” his whole face grinned, “we’re making twenty-two freaking knots of speed and I’m loving it.”

A particularly large wave slapped the boat sideways, the spray sounded like a bucket of thumbtacks thrown on the deck. Propped against a support post Larry held a video camera recording the live stream the kids saw. The wave knocked him to his knees.

Before he could recover his stance he heard a few screams form the computer and a small voice asking, “Are they sinking?”

Alain, one hand gripping a coffee mug, one gripping the table, smiled and shook his head. All the men had beards, his was the only nicely trimmed, said, “Non, do not worry, we are not sinking, mes amies. It will take a much larger wave than that to sink this petite bateau.”

A student asked, “You look comfortable there, what about the others on deck?”

Red tells Larry to go see.

Larry already has his rain pants on. He hands the camera to Ivan. “Ivan tell the kids how you keep us from getting scurvy.” While Ivan makes up a story while making himself the hero Larry donned his rain jacket and toque. Ready to go on deck he takes the camera from Ivan. Holding it out to video a selfy, he says, “Hey kids, don’t listen to a thing he says. Just eat your fruits and veggies and you’ll be all right. Let’s go topside.”

Larry climbed the companionway ladder and bracing himself in the middle of the cockpit did a three-sixty turn, ending focused on Thomas behind the wheel and Noah sitting beside him. Ricky stood in the companionway with the laptop facing out so the two men could see the kids.

Whoever was videoing at the school did a slow, closeup sweep of the kids ending on their teacher, Linda Sopia.

Noah leaned forward as she gave a little wave to the crew, meaning Noah. Noah’s gaze locks onto her. “Hi, you must be the teacher.”

“Yes, I am.” She smiled warmly. “Nice to see you, without the seaweed.”

“Ha. It’s much nicer to be an Old Salt rather than a Pollywog.” He turns away to avoid a slap in the face by spray. “Though the weather was better then.”

“It looks that way. Steering a sailboat is different from steering a car. Can you explain to my students?”

“I’ll try.” Thomas, barely recognizable under a heavy layer of raingear, stepped away from the helm and bowed to Noah.

Noah took a moment to connect with the speeding boat’s motion. Larry sat on a cockpit seat to focus on him.

Noah had to shout over the noise of wind and waves and the susurrus of the boat slicing through water at twenty-two knots plus. “It’s mostly a matter of feel. You have to feel the motion of the boat with your feet on the deck or the seat of your pants on the helmsman’s seat. As it rises up on a wave the water and the wind on the sails want to push the boat around. Your job is to anticipate where the boat is going to be pushed, and then to turn the wheel enough to push it back before it goes off course.”

As he talks he does as he says. Sometimes a little movement, sometimes bigger, but all smooth. The bumpy ride becomes a bit less bumpy under his hand.

“Like most things it’s about anticipation, practice,” he sticks his rear out and points to it, “and driving by the seat of your pants.”

Larry laughs. “And there you go, kids, a lesson in life and steering by our master helmsman, Noah.”

Noah waves. “Okay guys, good to talk with you.” He points directly at Linda. “Good to see you again.”

“And you,” she says. “Maybe when you return you will come and visit us.”

“Count on it.”

Standing in the companionway, Red says to the camera, “Okay kids, time’s up. If we keep up this speed Noah will be in your classroom in no time at all. We’ll be heading deep into the Roaring Forties where the weather and seas can get pretty rough. But, we have a good crew and a good boat so no worries.”

 

What If? – Windhaven 3

Merry Christmas everyone. Hope you had a good one with family, friends, or a kind waitress serving you a bowl of gruel in some greasy spoon diner. Tip her well.

Christmas/New Years sale!

Starting midnight December 25 to midnight January 1 Smashwords is having a book sale. Go to — https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/DavidBurton  to see my books on sale or free. Feel free to share this link. There’s also a link to Amazon for paperback editions. Thanks for your support. 

If for some strange reason you don’t find any of my books or stories to your liking there are thousands of other Smashwords books on sale — https://www.smashwords.com/shelves/promos/1

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I usually write about supernatural stuff or mystery/thrillers. Windhaven might have some thrills but no mystery and no vampires or trips to hell (see my other books.) It’s a survival adventure that could happen any day now.  

The What If? Part:

What If? the plane Noah is on does one of those alternate dimensional/time shifts and he sees a magazine with the story of Windhaven? He reads the article with alarm, especially when he confirms the date, a year in the future. What does he do? Call Linda and the boat’s Captain and get no answer? What if he lands, knowing what happened? What if the plane shifts back to his time? Does he still go, knowing what might happen? Could he change the outcome?

 

Windhaven 3  

Sipping excellent coffee, Linda sat at Noah’s settee table and watched him efficiently scramble eggs, cook bacon and toast toast. She wore the jeans from the night before and one of Noah’s long-sleeve shirts against the early morning chill. She’d showered in the marina’s bathrooms and her hair was still wet and unfettered. Noah wore his light brown hair short and had no use for a hair dryer.

It figured she’d like the guy who was going away for half a year on an adventure she thought she’d like to go on, too. When he glanced at her with those bright blue eyes and a slightly embarrassed, yet thoroughly satisfied, smile she shivered with the warm memory of his touch. How long had it been since she’d had great sex and so often. There were jokes about it but she thought she might be a little sore for a day or two. So worth it.

Noah refilled her coffee cup then slid a plate full of eggs and bacon and toast and small pile of leftover potatoes in front of her. “Eat up. You’ll need your strength for those wild third graders.”

He sat across from her with his own plate. Staring at his food he raised his eyes and met hers. “You look beautiful this morning.”

“I feel beautiful. You look pretty good yourself, if a bit sleepy.”

“Your fault.”

“At least you’ll get to sleep on the plane.” She moved her eggs around with her fork. “Unless you’ve decided at the last minute not go sailing off into the sunset.”

Noah studied the piece of bacon in his hand, shrugged. “I’m committed. Or maybe I should be committed. It’s into the sunrise, actually.”

They ate in silence for a couple minutes, then Linda said, “You said the race will have a website. “I’ll follow your progress. Get my kids to root for you.”

He cocked his head hoping a thought would fall out. He grinned and shook a finger in the air. “I forgot until just now, I think their planning to set up streaming visits by satellite to schools. The kids will be able to ask questions of the crew and get real-time answers. You’ll have to check the website. Maybe I won’t have to wait six months to see you again.” Linda’s eyes opened wide in question. “That is if you don’t mind.”

Her grin matched his. “And maybe I won’t have to wait either.”

Done with breakfast they stood by the companionway ladder not sure what to do or say.

Noah said, “I’d say thanks for last night, but that seems a bit unseemly.”

Linda said, “I was sort of thinking the same thing. How are you getting to the airport?”

“Uber.”

“Then why don’t you thank me for a ride to the airport?”

“Won’t your third graders be pining for your smiling face?”

“They’ll survive. I can take half a day.”

Noah stepped up close. “Are you going to walk me in and kiss me goodbye at the gate?”

Linda moved a few inches closer. “Yes.”

“Then thanks.”

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Don’t forget to sign up for this blog and/or occasional updates and check out the sale books.

Cheers,

David B

 

 

 

 

 

The Custodian 2

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Custodians don’t save the world every day, but there’s always recalcitrant teachers who think they know what’s what, and mice. A problematic combination. Not to worry. Us professional Custodians are highly trained to take care of any situation. Especially ones specific to our particular school. Like this–.

The Custodian 2

© David Burton 2018

The Night Custodian, dark cap pulled low, wearing a well-fitting T-shirt and khaki pants pushed his custodial cart along the outside walkways of the Grace Glass Elementary school. Still daylight, most of the students had left for the day and only a few teachers remained.

He approached the bullpen, a fenced in space next to the main building where dumpsters, old furniture, pallets and boxes were kept. The chain link gate was open.

A woman’s short little scream came from inside.

Calm, despite the invasion of his area, he looked in. With a broken mop handle, Miss Penki, a young teacher new to the school, poked agitatedly between two dumpsters. Seeing the Custodian, she dropped the handle and nervously wiped her hands on her skirt as she backed away.

“Oh, there you are,” she said with an annoyingly haughty tone. “I caught a mouse in my classroom on one of those sticky traps. I was throwing the filthy thing into the trash when it squeaked at me. It dropped down there so I pushed it back out of sight.” She shook her hands as if ridding herself of mouse cooties. “Just let the thing die by itself. If you did your job, I wouldn’t have to do things like this.”

Miss Penki shuddered and quickly walked away.

From the gate, the Custodian watched her with a frown and narrowed eyes. He entered the bullpen and peered into the dark between the dumpsters. With the broken handle he slid the trap out. It was torn,

and there was no mouse.

He heard a scuttling, claws-scratching-on-cement sound. Alert he looked deep into a cluttered corner. Large, human-sized, beady red eyes regarded him. Slowly they blinked, then whatever owned the eyes turned and vanished.

Thoughtfully, the Custodian folded the trap together, shook his head, and pitched it in the trash, then resumed his rounds.

******

The next day as The Custodian closed his office door a kid stopped in front of him. “Mr Custodian, the Principle wants to see you in her office.”

The Custodian nodded, pointed a strong finger at the boy. The boy touched the finger with his own, tip to tip, smiled and ran off through the outside gate, the last student to leave.

In the Principal’s office he leaned casually against the wall, hands in pockets.

Lounging in her chair, the Principal, a handsome Hispanic woman, said, “Miss Penki seems to be missing. She was here for fourth period, but didn’t show up for fifth period. Her car is still here. Have you seen her lately?”

The Custodian raised a quizzical eyebrow.

Apparently she had some uncomplimentary words to say about you yesterday. Not doing your job?”

He hung his head, but didn’t mean it. Their eyes stayed connected.

Do you have any idea where she might be? Or do I need to call the police?”

Frowning, thinking, he stared at the floor. He had a thought.

What?” the principal asked.

A minute later they stalked toward the bullpen.

And she just pushed it away? Fool.”

It was late in a cloudy day and the bullpen was shaded, a bit spooky. He moved a couple pallets and boxes from where he’d seen the red eyes. Behind them he found a two foot diameter hole in the wall. Picking up the broken handle, he spun it like a martial arts Bo-staff as he studied the hole.

Still casually, yet expertly, spinning the broken mop handle, he led the way to a storage closet. The Principle waited as he found a half-filled plastic jug and a large flashlight. Together, they moved to a blank door with no number or name. The Custodian handed her the jug, opened the door with his key, and cautiously entered.

Wary, they made their way down a dark, narrow, dusty passage littered with old boxes, old equipment, and old furniture toward a muffled, keening cry for help. At the end, in a small open space covered with gravel The Custodian’s flashlight revealed Miss Penki, hands, knees, and face awkwardly stuck to a giant sticky trap.

Little mice scrambled out of the beam, giving a wide berth to a two foot tall rat. The big rodent growled a warning through long, pointy,

unrodent-like teeth. Its red eyes simmered.

Eyes on the rat, otherwise unperturbed, The Custodian poured a yellow liquid from the jug around Miss Penki’s knees, feet, hands and face. As she came loose from the trap the rat made a grab at her foot with human-looking claws. She yelped and scrabbled across the gravel while The Custodian beat the creature back with the handle.

The Principle helped her to her feet. Miss Penki opened her mouth to speak.

Not a word, Miss Penki,” The principle said in her no nonsense principle voice. A very unrat-like roar sounded behind the women as they stumbled toward the door.

Fighting noises, growls and grunts, gravel scrabbling and handle whacking, followed them out the door. Twin red beams of light burned gouges in the cement walls.

Outside, Miss Penki collapsed on the grass. “Oh my God! What was that thing? What happened to me?”

Still in principle mode, the Principle said, “There is no thing, Miss Penki. And nothing happened to you.”

What? But…?”

Miss Penki, in the unfortunate event you have to kill a mouse around here, do it quick and clean. Do not shove it under a Dumpster to suffer and die of thirst or hunger. Do you understand?”

The teacher’s eyes grew wide. She looked to the bullpen then the open

door then the Principle. “You mean…?”

Yes.”

The Custodian closed the door. He carried the sticky trap folded together. Blood spattered his ripped shirt and pants. The broken handle dripped blood. He nodded to the Principle.

She nodded back. “Put in a damage form. The school will buy you a new shirt and pants.”

The Custodian nodded, shot Miss Penki a hard look, and headed for the bullpen, twirling the bloody mop handle.

 The End

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Gambling…or Not?

las-vegas-hotels-casinosThis is question about a story that’s right now at the bottom of my I Want To Write This Story List. But you never know. It could move up the list fast. There is history behind the bond of the three characters, but it’s not necessary to know for the  question. I’d really appreciate a comment at the end.

Two girls under 16 and a man about 60 are visiting Las Vegas. Las VegasThe man, Joe, is a friend, father, uncle or grandfather as necessary. The girls are more than friends. They are all walking down the LV Strip checking out the over the top hotels. One of the girls, Jane, as she walks past one of the casinos suddenly has a number, say 19, burst into her thoughts – 19 19 19, like a pulsing headache. As they move past the casino, the insistent number fades.

las-vegas-hotels-casinosCurious, they walk back past the hotel/casino and 19 fills her thoughts again until they pass. All of them being smart and curious they go into the casino, discussing what 19 means.

“Maybe it’s their lucky number,” said Kelly.

“Okay,” said Joe. They decided roulette would be the best place to use 19, so Joe headed into the casino and bought a few chips. Never having played roulette he was nervous, but finally he bet $30 ( $10 from each of them) on 19. The wheel spun, the ball rolled, Joe held his breath – thought  so this is how you become addicted to gambling – the ball dropped… into the red 19 slot.Dollar sign 2 gold

“Holy crap!” A bit dazed, he cashed in his chips and with $1040 in pocket he meant to leave the casino. But he had to walk past rows of slot machines, numbered slot machines and there was #19.  “Well, why not?” He loaded in five quarters and pulled the lever. He wasn’t even sure what he needed to get to win. Didn’t matter. The sudden bell ringing, lights flashing, and quarters pouring out clued him in.

A half hour later, with another $7500 in his pocket (after the IRS took their 25%) he sat down with the girls. “Holy crap,” and other unlady-like variations, they said. They agreed to see if it worked at other casinos. It did. And so they continued that day and night and many others for several years and many casinos, big and small. The IRS mostly got its due,IRS but Joe and Jane and Kelly (they were smart girls) figured a few ways around them. Joe always shared equally with them, after all he needed them for the number, but he loved them as daughters/granddaughters, too. Once they were making a lot of money and the girls’ college was paid for, they gave at least 10% to charity.

So, where they gambling or stealing? The only difference between them and regular gamblers was they had that number, wherever it came from. They didn’t create it or ask for it, it just came to Jane when she was holding Kelly’s hand. They figured Kelly was a sort of battery that made Jane go. No jiggered machines or corrupt employees where involved. No systems were used. They bought the chips, made the bets like anybody else.

Gambling, stealing, cheating or receiving a gift from…? What would you do?

I’d appreciate your insightful comments.  Feel free to share this link with friends who might be wiseman2 thinkerinterested – https://davidburtonwriting.wordpress.com/2015/09/13/gambling-or-not

If you missed my last post, Reviewers Rule, because a Gmail update messed up my e-mail lists, please read, heed and share. (scroll down)

 

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Reviewers rule.

READERS                                                                                                                   Blood on the Water large cover

We all want a good review, no matter what we do. Authors especially. I know you all have bought and read my latest two books, Blood on the Water and Soul Retrievers, and are just taking a little time to come down from the high you got from reading them before writing a five star review for Amazon, Goodreads, etc. I thank you for your review ahead of time.

All reviews are helpful, the life blood of authors and readers looking for a goodSoul Retv corrected- small read. We court reviewers, critics and bloggers by the hundreds. Beg them to read our work and write a positive review.  They can make or break a career. Or so I’ve been told. I’m still a non-bestseller, non-award winning, non-famous writer. Reviewers, and that includes readers, have the power to help a little bit, should they choose to use it.

But, What if there was a Reviewer who did have absolute power to make an author famous, wealthy and loved around the world? One who’s merest word would make any product – book,  movie, coffee, car, diaper, hotel, soft drink, or vegan food into the most desired (or undesired) of its kind on Earth. He, or she, could shape the world as he saw fit.  Politicians would be in or out at his whim as he reviewed their performance. Economic systems implemented or abandoned with a few words on late night TV. Always assuming he was psychologically fit himself.

depressed man2What if he was depressed and didn’t like anything? Nobody would buy anything and there might be a world depression. Manic on the other side, he might like everything and the world goes into massive debt because they spend all their money buying everything. His paranoia might be good for the bodyguard/mercenary business, not so good for the civilian guns trade with a particularly scathing review for the NRA. If he smoked a bit of weed to dull the paranoia, that might be good for the fast food and munchies business.

Obviously, his reviews would be sought after. A good review would be like money in the bank. But what would he want for one of his Golden Reviews? Money? At first, but soon he’d have more money than most countries. Power? He could topple or create governments or mega-corporations. But what about us little guys, the struggling writers and entrepreneurs? Maybe he was a struggling writer who never made it and so had a soft spot for us  non-bestselling, non-award winning authors. For a token payment he’d post a good review of your book on Amazon. Heck, I’d slip him 100 dollar billa hundred bucks for a review of Blood on the Water or Soul Retrievers. Not that the reviews you’re working on for me don’t matter. They do. They hold the same power as the Super Reviewer’s will when he finally makes himself known. So use your power for good.

 

WRITERS

What If The Reviewer is a lone alien trying singlehandedly to take over humanity for his own alien 1 meangrandiose, but demented,  I-want-to-rule-a-world dreams, or as an advance softening up before an invasion, or as a way to get alien2 wavinghumanity to build a ship to take him home? But, some humans are always immune to what might affect the rest. Maybe one, who’s a super used car salesman, realizes what’s going on and posts an anti-Reviewer blog. And the blog-fight is on!

 

 

What If The Reviewer is supernatural in nature? satan3-readingGodGod or the Devil trying to reach humanity for their own reasons using the latest tech, social media, for their own agendas. Maybe a God vs Satan blog fight for the future of mankind.

What If The Reviewer was just a regular guy who was trying to help out a woman he liked with her first book and he discovered he had the Gift and things got a little out of hand and it took the woman to figure out who he was and bring the world back from the brink – and incidentally find true love.

All Readers have the power to kill or resurrect  a writers career. Please review wisely.wiseman1