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About CarlHoliday

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    Manic Poster

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    A little ways past the hundred acre wood.
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    Maps, games, music, reading and writing fiction.

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  1. Needless to say, my life is one big fuck up right now. Everything seems to be going to the shits. Well, not everything. Two significant parts of my life remain on track. My reading is prodigious right now. I am actively reading: Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman, Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett, The Seventh Cross by Anna Seghers, Hiroshima by John Hersey, Blood’s a Rover by Harlan Ellison, and most of The New Yorker when it comes to the house most weeks. Yeah, you’re asking how do I keep track of it all. Well, I do, somehow. The other thing going on correctly right now is my next story. It had a working title of The Reluctant Father up until yesterday when I changed it to Canes. I working on Chapter 8 right now. It is a psycho-sexual family drama about a sixty-something gay widower and a young gay teen who has an unhealthy relationship with railroad locomotives. It’s not so much that they go fast, but exactly what happens if you’re standing in front of one when it’s going 50 mph. So, what’s going on with the rest of my live? Well, you see we have this thirteen week old German Shepherd puppy that—although she belongs to my son—is my responsibility during the day because he works swing shift, comes home and stays up until three or four in the morning, doesn’t get up until one or one-thirty in the afternoon, and he leaves for work at two-fifteen so he can get to work an hour early so he can read the newspaper. Then yesterday afternoon when he got up to eat his breakfast, his regular bowl was dirty because he’d used it for a snack the previous night, so, he got a bowl out of the cupboard. Now, these bowls are not cereal bowls; they’re more dessert sized, which means he has to keep the box of cereal and the jug of milk on the table so he can have a sizeable breakfast. “Why didn’t you wash your bowl?” I asked foolishly. “Oh, you know, I don’t do service work anymore. The house nigger should’ve cleaned it before I got up.” Yeah, that’s his nickname for me. The house nigger does the dishes, sweeps the floors, does the grocery shopping, and raises his mastuh’s dogs. Plus, my knees are giving out on me, but the VA orthopedic surgeons won’t send me outside to get artificial knees because I weigh too much. I think I need to lose about another ten pounds. My bad knees are forcing me to decide whether I’m going to give up the idea of leaning how to play the guitar because I have to drive 27 miles to my lessons every Saturday. I know you’re thinking, “Oh, the poor old man has to drive TWENTY-SEVEN MILES and back for his guitar lessons. Well, if it’s all that far, maybe, he should give up his dream. Poor old man.” Well, fuck, I drive down there and back and not surprisingly it takes me six days to recover (yeah, six days means I miss that day’s lesson) because unlike most people, I don’t have any cartilage in my knees. It’s all melted away and has been replaced with arthritis, but my orthopedic surgeon says I gotta walk to keep that synovial fluid sloshing around in there to cushion what I have left of my knees. If I don’t, then just maybe I won’t be able to walk at all. I’ll be lucky if they issue me one of those walkers with handle bars, a seat, and hand brakes. Worse? Well, I don’t want to think of worse because when the surgeon told me about what worse entails, I figured I’d better get out there and walk some more even if it makes my knees feel like dried dog shit on a hardwood floor. And, of course, there’s the head or, rather, its contents, that collection of gray and white matter which is supposed to keep me on an even keel, but doesn’t. Sure, I take meds, I’ve been taking meds since April, 2008. But, now, I’ve been released by my local VA shrink and sent out to a vendor. An example of this vendor’s expertise in mental health meds is she prescribed Amantadine for my Essential Tremor. It’s a mild Parkinson’s drug given for tremor from that disorder, but one of its rather insidious side effects is narcolepsy. If I take that, I’ll be subjecting myself to my personal “My Own Private Idaho.” Just think of it, no more tremors, but going to sleep in a school zone and wiping out a street crossing full of first graders. Not my idea of fun. They do recommend not driving or operating heavy equipment if you take it. So, I’m not going to be taking that med. When she asks how I doing on it, I’ll let her know about the narcolepsy side effect. Probably, the worst thing about that side effect is that not only can it occur when you first start taking the med, but it can crop up years away. I wonder how many old people who’ve been given that drug and fall asleep while driving down the street and take out a sidewalk full of kids on their way to get Slurpees. It certainly won’t be me. But, speaking of mental health, I’m in a general funk right now. Yesterday, I was ready to pack my bags and books and take a powder. I don’t know where I would’ve gone. Probably, a city where there is a VA Med Center where I could get treatment for my various ailments. And, of course, although I would’ve left a note, I wouldn’t say where I was going and I certainly would never come back. No, this house nigger was going to be a runaway and I wouldn’t give a fuck about whether my son could remember how to wash dishes. Today? Well, today I listened to all of my Vangelis CDs and typed this blog, which dumped a whole lot of shit on you guys. I apologize, but you see I don’t have anyone else to dump on because my VA shrink won’t talk to me and my vendor shrink only speaks to veterans on Thursday’s. So, thank you for listening and sorry for the “N” word, but when you’re called it, it kind of sticks to you in not a very nice way. Better go, time to feed the dogs or mastuh be mad.
  2. I received an interesting comment (not a review, which I would’ve preferred, since it seemed to cover the whole story) on my recently completed five chapter story The Angel of Retribution. Since the comment was not totally flattering, I will refrain from revealing the user name associated with it. I’ll save you the trouble of having to go look up the comment by quoting it: “Hmm (a half-smiling emoji added here) really bad writing great story though but I don’t really think u (yes, just the one vowel) are a writer but the story line was great but it was all over the place sorry.” Three “buts,” no punctuation, admitted it was a great story and had a great story line, but the commenter obviously doesn’t like the art of digression. Maybe he/she (one can never tell which it is if you only have an avatar to go by) hasn’t read very much Swift, Sterne, or, for that matter, Prachett. I believe I’m basically a linear writer, but I do admit to periodic digressions. Of course, I also tend not to use six, or greater, syllables because early in my writing education (yes, I took creative writing classes in college) I learned to use smaller words if they got the message across. Why confuse the reader by forcing them to have a dictionary handy? And, unlike Updike, et al, I don’t use foreign words. That’s just not my style, even if I do subscribe to “The New Yorker.” Speaking of which, does anybody know who decided to bring “outlier” into everyday spoken and written English? I remember when “fruition” came out of the closet back in the early 80’s, but now it seems to have gone dark, again. Now, of course, we have to consider my response because, yes, I did respond: “Thank you for your comment. (Always! Thank a commenter no matter how much dirt they throw at you.) As for my writing, well, I prefer the quote from Cyril Connolly: ‘Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. (by the way, that’s on my signature here) And, now, that you believe I am not a writer, I’m positive you shan’t be commenting on any of my other stories.” I don’t know about that last sentence now that I’ve had time to think about it. Do you think “shan’t” was a little too strong? Maybe, I should have used “probably won’t.” Of course, we do have to consider that I suffer from Type I Bipolar Disorder and am heavily medicated, which sometimes interferes with my thinking and my tendency to digress. Maybe, my mental illness is interfering with my ability to write stories. Maybe, I should just hang up my pencil and paper and concentrate on learning how to play jazz guitar. (I don’t know if I’ve said this before, but I found a local jazz guitarist who is giving me lessons on the mystical use of that instrument. Of course, it’s not like my playing is going anywhere because about the time I get good at it, I’ll probably be on my deathbed.) Then, again, maybe my commenter needs to do a poll on whether I belong on this site if I am “not a writer.” Then he/she can submit his/her findings to the Admins and have me summarily ejected from this site. Or, he/she can submit his/her findings to me and I’ll message the Admins to have me and all of my material erased from this site. Or, I can just continue writing for myself and realize that my commenter is not among my public. FYI: I’ve finished the first 5 chapters of my next story, “The Reluctant Father.” (Imagine a sixty-something gay widower suddenly having a thirteen-year-old gay boy (with serious mental issues) thrust into his home out in the burbs.) Or, as the poet John Lydgate wrote: “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” And, I think that just about covers the whole shebang.
  3. CarlHoliday

    Good News Thread

    As reported today in The New Yorker online, there is good news for gays in India. Finally, their Supreme Court struck down Section 377 of India's Penal Code which was originally written by British Victorians who occupied their country. An example of their view on sex, the Section 377 begins: "Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature . . .". This is one more step in India's progress to decolonialize itself from the Brits. https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/indias-historic-gay-rights-ruling-and-the-slow-march-of-progress
  4. CarlHoliday

    Chapter 5

    Thank you for your comment. As for my writing, well, I prefer the quote from Cyril Connolly: "Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self." And, now, that you believe I am not a writer, I'm positive you shan't be commenting on any of my other stories.
  5. CarlHoliday

    Intergalactic Radio Station

    Thank you for your comment. I'm sorry you were so alarmed by this story and then where the God turned out to be a rather large insect. I chose the god to be an arthropod because on Earth they are the most abundant ecological guilds in most environments, so, it was only natural that the god of all would be an arthropod.
  6. CarlHoliday

    Intergalactic Radio Station

    Nearly thirty years ago, the Greek compose Vangelis released the "Direct" album. One of the songs on the album was "Intergalactic Radio Station" and I've always thought "what a great name for a story." But, time came and went and I never seemed to get the proper incentive to take that title and manipulate it into words. Until now . . .
  7. The ship was of the Valiant-class, exploratory vessels with a human complement of five standard officers, two support officers, five nonmilitary science officers, and over a hundred enlisteds. The ship itself was 135 meters long, 55 meters wide, and 75 meters high. Normally, it lay on its flat keel plates, but could be evenly raised 25 meters off whatever surface was under it. At the present time, four officers supported by a science officer and twenty enlisteds were out in exp mods exploring the planet they’d landed on. Since they didn’t see any signs of civilization as they orbited the planet, their primary goal was to find out what happened to the humans who were previously transported to the planet. In his cabin, the commanding officer, Captain E.C. Gaines was asleep in his rack. He was startled awake by the same dream he’d been having for all the past eternities. Frank, his orange tabby, was perched on his chest glaring at him. “Sorry, Frank, you know the replicator doesn’t make cat food.” Frank jumped down and padded out of the bedroom. Meanwhile, E.C. sat up before turning and placing his feet on the warm floor. He sighed at the familiar rhythmic beeping of the intruder alert. He silently hoped it was a herd of deer or feral cattle, but the beep rhythm did not indicate quadrupeds. Once he got over to his desk, he turned on the viewer and scanned the clearing around his ship. By the look of the thirteen men, women, and children of both sexes, he could tell they hadn’t seen a med pro for a long time, if ever. All of them had bacterial lesions on all visible places of their skin. Two of the men were missing portions of limbs and a young boy was supporting himself with a crutch to make up for a missing foot. The man turned off the viewer and set the defcon to level four. If any of the poor bastards touched the ship, they’d be dematerialized almost instantly. He silently wished it would be different, but they were a threat to his and the rest of the ship’s existence. He turned on the stereo, selected rock and pop from the mid to late twentieth century, turned up the volume, and headed down to the galley. The music would follow him wherever he went in the ship, even to the point of overriding the music choices of his crew. On the way, he stopped at the clock: Earth Year 9251/Ship Time 3976.45. Where had all the people gone? The ship shuddered as a dematerialization pulse eliminated a possible intruder. In the galley, Frank was meowing as he circled his bowl. E.C. selected seventy-five percent meat, twenty-five percent vegetable products, base color light brown, scent animal product. He placed Frank’s bowl in the replicator as the ship shuddered as another dematerialization pulse eliminated another of the so-called humans outside his ship. Frank’s food appeared in his bowl and after the light went out he took it out, felt the temperature, and set it down on the floor. Frank sniffed at the manufactured food, looked up at the man, and walked out of the kitchen. “I know you’ll eat it eventually,” the man called out to the disappearing cat. The ship shuddered three times in close succession. The man went back to his desk and as another shudder shook the ship, he sat down and turned on the viewer. The seven remaining humans seemed bewildered at what was occurring. He saw one of the women come up to the ship and reach out toward the soft green defense membrane. The ship shuddered and she disappeared in a flash of light and a momentary burst of high-frequency white noise. Then he saw the boy approaching the ship, but he stopped about five meters from the membrane. Behind him a man wielding an obsidian knife approached him in a threatening manner. E.C. deployed the extra-vehicle safety module over the head of the boy and turned on the defense shield, which lowered a bright white light down over the boy until it came within a few centimeters of the ground. The man’s knife touched the shield and he disappeared into a cloud of boiling smoke, which eventually dissipated in the wind leaving nothing of the man. The remaining four adults made some sort of gesture with their arms and fingers and sank back into the forest. The boy looked around him, but he didn’t move close to the defense shield. E.C. extended the highly charged ion field around the boy until he had room to walk. Ever so slowly, the shield moved toward the ship’s portal. It took quite a few minutes, but eventually the boy was standing within a few centimeters of the ship. E.C. pressed the intercom and one of the crew put on a biohazard suit. The woman went down to the base level of the ship where she pressed a button to release the defense shield and opened the portal nearest the boy. The boy, covered in rags and bacterial lesions, stared at the being in front of him. The woman stepped out of the ship, grabbed the boy’s arm, and pulled him into ship. As she held the boy, she closed the portal and reset the def con to level seven, which would protect the ship outward by ten meters. Turning his attention to the boy, she knew what needed to be done. She said, “Okay, you, off with the dirty clothes.” “Nee waa God see.” “Uh, huh, expected as much. Well, there’s nothing to do about it. Me not God.” The boy fell to the floor, pressed his head to the surface, and said, “Waa God see. Hurth waa no.” “Well, your language hasn’t deteriorated as much as we thought. Okay, boy, stand up; I need to remove your clothes and put you in the med pro.” The boy didn’t move, but said once again, “Waa God see.” “Yes, yes, but I’m not God,” the woman said as she pulled the boy to his feet. The boy didn’t resist, even when the woman tore off his filthy clothes. The woman picked up the boy and carried him over to the med pro where she laid him on the table, which slowly slid into the machine. She pushed a few buttons and turned a couple dials before pushing the start button. The door closed and a slight hum began. She took off her biohazard suit and slipped it into the incinerator. Then she took a long hot shower with a disinfectant soap. After showering, she went to the command center and said, “The boy is in the med pro.” “Very good, Sergeant Ames,” E.C. said as he turned to the viewer and saw more of the local humans carrying rocks to a spot in the clearing ten meters from the def con line. He watched them slowly construct a rough pyramid. A young girl, probably not much older than the boy in the med pro was brought forward where a man wielding an obsidian knife slit her throat. She was tossed up onto the pyramid. Disgusted over these pathetic excuses for humans, E.C. rapidly moved the def con line out twelve meters and killed most of the adults standing around the pyramid. The others ran back into the forest. Interestingly, though, the body of the girl on the pyramid was not absorbed by the ionic field. The man moved the def con line back to its original position. He went back to the med pro and looked at the timer. The pointer had barely moved off the start position. He turned on the view screen, but it had been locked by the robotic monitor; some things simply weren’t meant to be seen by humans. Not knowing what else to do, he went to his quarters, lay down on his rack, and picked up his portable viewer to read a book. * * * “Sir? Sorry to bother you, but the med pro is in its last cycle,” First Sergeant Mallory said through the intercom. “Thank you, Sergeant, I’ll go up and see what we’ve got,” E.C. said as he turned off his viewer and rolled out of the rack. “Did you check the view screen?” “Yes, but it was locked, requesting your log in.” “Uh, huh, well you might as well accompany me to see if we have a human or a blob of bacterial dissolved tissue.” “Yes, sir.” The captain put his feet into his slippers and stood up. Silently, he wondered if the boy in the med pro was alright or if the robotics determined he was a threat to the ship and after destroying all the bacterial and viral infections dissolved his body into its molecular components for use in the various biological functions in the ship. It wouldn’t be the first time that happened and their training taught them to expect the loss of human specimens acquired on human occupied planets. The men arrived on the third level and then walked back into the med area where the med pros were kept. They walked up to the unit where the boy was being processed and E.C. pressed the button on the viewer. It asked for his password and he entered it. The door lifted and the table slid out of the medical processor. The boy was lying on his stomach and his back was free of any sign of bacterial or viral infection, plus his missing foot had been replaced. “Sergeant, turn the boy over,” E.C. said. The sergeant did as ordered and both men could see the boy was cured on his front side as well. He looked up at the men and said, “Waa God see. Meth guan waa.” “What’s he saying?” the sergeant said. “Turn on the universal translator and see if it can come up with a solution,” E.C. said. He placed a hand on the boy’s forehead and said, “Boy, who are you?” “I see my God. I will do as I am told,” the translator’s speaker said. “Well, sir, it looks like you’re these human’s god,” the sergeant said. “It must get tiring having to be a supreme being to human’s who haven’t the slightest idea what religion is really about.” “Okay, get some clothes on him and put him in an ed mod unit. Let’s see if we can drive some intelligence into him.” “Right you are, Cap’n. Come on you, time to become a real human.” The sergeant grabbed the boy by his upper arm, but the boy resisted and ran to E.C. He wrapped his arms around the older man’s legs and the universal translator said, “Save me my God from eternal doom. I am but a small boy. Let me service you.” “Service?” the sergeant said. “That’s what he said,” E.C. said. He took ahold of the boy’s arm and physically gave him to the sergeant. “Reverse translate. Boy, go with this man.” “Waa maan seem awaan,” the universal translator said. The boy looked at the sergeant and placed his hand in the older man’s hand. “There you go sergeant, do your duty,” E.C. said. “I suggest you have a universal translator that’s tied to the ship’s system while you’re dealing with the boy.” “I have a corporal who’s good with children,” the sergeant said. “I’m not saying how to do your job, just get it done. This boy may be able to tell us where all the people went.” “Yes, sir, I’ll get right on it. Come along you,” the sergeant said as he tugged at the boy. As the sergeant and the boy disappeared down the passageway, E.C. walked toward the command center as a shudder went through the ship. He broke into a run and ran up the nearest companionway to the next level of the ship. He came into the com center and turned on the viewer and saw several local humans around the ship. They were building another pyramid on the starboard side, plus one off the bow. He had to give them credit for their persistence, but thinking this was a godly vessel only perpetuated the myth of gods coming out of the heavens and saving the human populations from certain death. Then he saw a boy about the same age as the boy in the ship, but he was different. The boy didn’t have any sign of bacterial and viral lesions on his body and his clothes looked cleaner than the humans around him. Had he been captured from a normal human settlement? He was being manhandled toward the pyramid on the port side by two lesion ridden men. E.C. activated the defense beam generator on that side of the ship, aimed it at one of the men, and pressed the trigger. Nearly instantly a beam was projected out from the ship and blew off the head of the man. E.C. adjusted the aim and killed the other man. The other humans in the clearing faded into the forest. E.C. activated a robotic personnel recovery unit and sent it out to get the boy who turned and intently watched the robot approach him. The robot reached out with its manipulators and took hold of the boy who didn’t resist at all. The robot returned to the ship and put the boy into a biohazard unit for evaluation. E.C. arrived at the base level and went to look at the boy who was in the process of removing his clothes. “Why was he doing that?” E.C. wondered. “Was he that different from the local humans?” “Who are you, I wonder,” E.C. said into the mic. “I Connic. Exdromen attack. I capture. Kill many Za’mnith. I Za’mnith. You God come save Za’mnith?” “Sorry, I’m not God.” “God here?” “Sorry, no we didn’t bring God with us. Where is your village?” “Village what?” “Where you live?” “I live Exdromen.” “But, before you were captured. Where did you live?” “Beyond great river.” “Okay, Connic, I need to put you into a machine that will check out your physical condition since you’ve been living with the Exdromen.” “Yes, Connic no resist.” The door to the biohazard unit opened and Connic stepped out. E.C. led him up into the ship to the med pros. He pressed a few buttons on the first one causing the door to open and the table to slide out. “Up on the table, Connic,” E.C. said. Surprisingly, the boy complied with the request and that was when E.C. decided to move the ship to the land of the Za’mnith. The possibility of making contact with semi-intelligent humans was too great. Plus, the humans around here were so preoccupied with the possibility that God was in the ship there was little chance E.C. and his crew would ever be able to establish a meaningful relationship with them. Of course, according to Connic there were Exdromen where he’d come from, but maybe the men on the ship would be able to eradicate that threat. E.C. sent messages to the exp mods directing their immediate return to the ship unless they had found something that required careful examination. All four mods responded that they were returning to the ship because they hadn’t found any sign of intelligent life within a thousand kilometers of the ship. The ship shuddered again causing E.C. to turn on the viewer. The Exdromen had returned in force and were busy working on the pyramids. E.C. extended the def con line out to twenty-five meters. It wouldn’t be as effective at killing the Exdromen, but it would certainly caused significant wounds. The ship started shuddering as the dangerous illiterate humans were being partially consumed by the def con ion field. It couldn’t go on for long because each burst of highly charged ions took a toll on the ship’s propulsion systems. After the Exdromen had disappeared into the forest, E.C. used proton generators to reduce the pyramids to lumps of semi-liquid rock. “Engineering!” E.C. said into the mic. “Engineering, aye?” a voice said. “Raise us in preparation of departure. Ten or so meters should be sufficient.” “Aye, aye, sir.” E.C. pulled up a 3-D image of the planet on the viewer. Great rivers, he thought, hell, there were great rivers all across the planet, though some of them were greater than others. Maybe, Connic’s great river was one of them. Or, was it some body of water that flowed like a river, but in reality, wasn’t, like a large tidal channel in flood. He pulled up a view of Connic’s med pro and saw that it was nearly finished. For whatever reason, Connic was definitely different from the indigenous population, but why? E.C. pulled up the first boy’s bio chart and saw he had 42 chromosomes. Why was that? When he pulled up Connic’s chromosomal chart he saw that the boy had the standard set of autosomes, but two additional allosomes. Why was that? The science officers were going to have a field day studying these two boys. “Science lab,” E.C. said into the mic. “Science Officer Johns speaking.” “We’ve got a problem and I want you to start working on it. The two boys we picked up don’t have the same set of chromosomes.” “Okay, I’ll put it on our work list.” “How long is the list, now?” “So far, we’ve come up with forty-seven items that need further examination, including a bacterium that is attempting to invade the ship’s out shell.” “Can we get rid of it?” “What do you mean, get rid of it? We have to investigate it.” “To the point it dissolves vital components of the ship and we’re forced to stay on this godforsaken planet? I’ll tell you what, how about if I arrange it that you can be put in your very own exp mod and left here to study your precious bacteria?” “Sir, you don’t have to ridicule me.” “Put the chromosomes at the top of the list and let me know when you’ve come up with anything interesting.” “Sir, I heard that we’re leaving this location and going somewhere else. I feel I must protest that move. There are certain significant biologics we’ve discovered at this location that demand further investigation.” “Science Officer Johns, your protest is noted. When the exp mods return, we’ll have one fitted out so you can stay here because it is obvious to me you do not have any concept of command decisions.” E.C. flipped off the mic and headed for the med section of the ship. Once he arrived, he saw a med tech was helping Connic down from the table. A corporal walked into the room with a stack of clothes and placed them on the table next to the boy. “Put your clothes on, like a good little boy,” Corporal Anders said. “You marriage me, yes?” “Not anytime soon, little boy.” “I Connic.” “Okay, Connic, be a nice boy and put on the clothes I brought you. Sir, Sergeant Mallory said I’m to be the boy’s mentor. What does that involve?” “He’s your job from now on. You might say you’re his stepfather and will be expected to treat him as your offspring. Top priority is protecting him from some of the other men who might be tempted by the boy’s youth. The service has always known they are out there, but we just can’t seem to get rid of them. It’s one thing to take a liking to another member of the crew and quite another to want to bed a little boy. Then you will ensure he spends sufficient time in an ed mod. You have my permission to put him in a rack close to you. Of most importance, you will ensure he doesn’t come in contact with that other boy we picked up. Do you understand?” “Aye, aye, Cap’n.” “Oh, yes, one more thing. Check out a universal translator in case there are some words he doesn’t understand.” “You ready to go, boy?” “What?” the boy asked holding out the slippers. “They go on your feet.” “Why?” “Let him go barefoot,” E.C. said. “Aye, aye, sir. Come on Connic, time to get you settled it,” Corporal Anders said. “I wonder what the Missus would say to this.” “How long had you been married before we left?” E.C. asked. “Just about five years; it was the allotment she wanted being that she’ll be dead by the time we get back.” “Yes, that old time light speed travel mechanics.” “Yes, sir, but this boy’ll make up for my loss.” E.C. watched Anders and Connic walk down the passageway to the next companionway. Silently, E.C. had hopes for the boy, but you never knew about alien humans. Time and physics did strange things to humans that populated this quadrant of the Milky Way. The ship itself had moved in a time frame quite outside the reference to the galaxy as a whole. Then the exp mods started signaling in. Engineering extended the wings and each mod took its place along the length of the wings. Their propulsion systems would be used for takeoff and to assist the ship’s main engines in its transit to the new location, wherever that was. As the mods docked in turn, E.C. walked into the ship to find Anders and Connic. He needed to find the great river the boy was talking about and hoped the boy would be able to pick it out on a 3-D representation of the planet. He found them in the corporal’s quarters. Anders had a horrified look on his face as the boy stood naked before him. E.C. didn’t know where this behavior was coming from, but it had to stop and stop now. “Connic! What are you doing?” E.C. almost yelled. “Man take me. We marriage.” “No! That is not how it is done, today.” “He not marriage me? What Connic for?” “He is your teacher. You will learn from him, but you will not marriage him.” “Learn? Anders teacher?” “Yes, Anders is your teacher.” “Good, Connic learn what Anders teach.” “Connic, where is the great river?” E.C. asked. “Many, many days away.” “Which direction?” “Direction what?” “Come here, let me show you this planet,” E.C. said as he flipped a switch on his belt and a 3-D representation of the planet appeared in the middle of the room. “We are here. Where is the great river?” Connic looked at the representation and walked through, around, and through it, again. He touched the brightly lit spot where the ship was located and drew a finger across a desert toward an immense glacier that filled a broad valley between to mountain ridges. “Here great river. Frozen.” “Where are the Za’mnith?” “There on mountains of Gods.” “Where are the Exdromen?” “Not there. Gone away. Take me, others, sell some, eat some, others slaves. Me slave. Enemy gone.” “Are there any more Za’mnith on the mountains?” “Do not know.” “Captain, all exp mods have been recovered and sync’d with the main propulsion system,” a nearby speaker said. “Okay, lift off and head for planet coordinates 35 W 52 N relative,” E.C. said. “Set speed to standard. We’re not in that much of a hurry to get there.” * * * The ship rose up and raised its landing gear until it was clear of the surrounding forest. E.C. looked through the viewer and saw Exdromen run out of the trees and begin to throw rocks up at the ship. They may not have understood what was occurring, but even the highest thrown rocks disappeared in flashes of bright light. Soon the ship reached 500 meters and the main engine started causing the ship’s speed to perceptively increase. The exp mods rotated in their connections to the wings as the wings slowly angled back toward the main hull. Slowly, the ship rose to 4,500 meters and headed toward the glacier. E.C. turned on the mic and said, “Lieutenant Commander Smith, the ship is yours. The course is in the computer, please monitor our progress to our destination. You may relinquish command to Lieutenant Commander Manson at the end of your shift. I am retiring to my quarters. Please notify me if anything of interest comes up.” “Aye, aye, Captain.” E.C. went back through the ship until he came to Corporal Anders’s quarters. He knocked on the door jamb and looked in. To his consternation the boy was naked, again. “Anders, do we have a problem?” “Yes, sir, he insists that I have sex with him.” “Have you tried to reason with him?” “Yes, sir, but you see it seems to be part of his culture that a man of my age have sex with a boy of his age. He seems most disturbed that I am not willing to do so.” “Connic, why do you want to marriage with Anders?” “He is my master. I am his slave. We have marriage as it must be.” “Connic, we are not of this planet and my men will not have marriage with our guests. Connic, you are a guest of this ship and Anders is your teacher. You cannot marriage with him.” “I do not understand, my God. You gave Anders to me for marriage. I must marriage with him to satisfy your wishes.” “Connic, I am not your God.” “No! You must be my God or why are you here if not my God. You gave Anders to me for marriage.” “Anders, any input on this?” “He demands that he sleep with me, but if he does, I promise not to do anything. I’m not that kind of guy.” “Connic, how old are you?” E.C. asked. “By passages of star, my years count to twenty-five.” “How can that be, you’re not more than a child.” “No, this is Za’mninthre. I am Za’mninth. I am twenty-five. At God Mountain my mate was Za’mninthel. Exdromen kill mate. I must marriage to be with my God. It is the way of the Za’mninth. I must marriage with Anders. It is God’s law.” “Well, Captain?” Anders asked. “There’s always the old saw, ‘when in Rome do as the Romans,’ but I’m still uncomfortable with you in bed with that boy.” “What if he actually is twenty-five? Wouldn’t we be offending his customs?” “Do you feel comfortable with marrying this boy and becoming involved with him in that way?” “No, sir, I’m not at all interested in bedding a boy who looks as if he’s not that many months past eleven even if he says he’s twenty-five. Maybe, this planet’s orbit is different that old Earth’s.” “It isn’t and you know that. We came here for that very reason. The transponder in orbit around this planet was placed there when the ships brought humans to populate the planet.” “And, now, we know something went wrong after the immigration,” E.C. continued. “Out of the original humans two distinct humanoid populations have developed.” “Okay, Connic, for the time being you may marriage with Anders,” E.C. said. “No, not marriage with, just marriage,” Connic said. “Corporal, I’ll leave it to you to figure out what marriage means to a Za’mninth,” E.C. said. After E.C. left Corporal Anders and Connic, the corporal closed the door and locked it. He went over to the desk chair and sat down. He asked, “Okay, my boy, what is this marriage thing with you?” “You are disciple of God, I must do as you ask?” “But, what am I to do with you?” “Nothing; we marriage, but you do not touch me. I am not Za’mnithcern. We bed together, but you do not marriage me.” “Well, that’s fine and dandy with me. I certainly wasn’t much interested in having sex with you.” “No! You cannot sex with me. It is not allowed. We marriage, but do not sex. Do you understand?” “Not really, but since you do not want to have sex with me, I guess it’s okay for you to sleep with me.” E.C. walked down the passageway heading toward the com center. He was interested on where they were, especially how close they were to the massive glacier. The ship shuddered and he opened his communicator. “Engineering, what happened?” he asked. “Some sort of beam passed through the ship. We’re trying to triangulate its source.” “Let me know when you have it figured out.” “Aye, aye, sir.” He entered the com center and looked at the screens mounted on the walls across the bow of the ship and fifteen degrees down each side. He saw fires in the forests and grasslands below the ship. Obviously, the Exdromen were doing something, but what? “Increase altitude by 1,000 meters,” E.C. said. “Aye, aye, sir.” “Captain, Navigation reporting, we’re being tracked and receiving a homing signal from some mountains on the other side of that glacier in front of us.” “Follow it in. Let’s see what we’re up against.” The ship slowed and tied its steering controls to the homing signal. Once on the far side of the glacier, mountains, in excess of 7,500 meters, reared up from the surrounding valleys reminding many of the crew of the Himalayas where they’d done many near ground flight exercises. Finally, they came around two glacier covered 8,500 meter massifs and saw a mountain of unbelievable height reaching up through the cirrus overcast. The homing signal was drawing them directly toward the mountain. “Slow to docking speed,” E.C. said. “Docking speed, aye,” the navigation tech said. Not too unexpectedly, the side of the mountain opened to reveal a port inside. It appeared to everyone in the com center to have been designed specifically for Valiant-class ships. Once the ship was inside the mountain the doors closed and the landing gear of the ship was lowered. “Welcome, Earth humans, to Za’mninthre,” a voice said out of the ship’s speakers. “If you would be so kind, please lower your access port so we may connect our entry port.” “Why aren’t you speaking like the young Za’mninth we retrieved from the Exdromen?” “Ah, Earth humans, always so many questions. You say you have brought one of the Za-mninth from your previous landing location? Pray tell, what is its name.” “Connic.” “Connic, what?” “He only goes by Connic.” “That is suspicious, though possibly he is from the outer reaches of our territory on Za’mninthre. Without proper education, one tends to lose vital bits of knowledge.” “Who are you?” “I serve God. I am Za’mninthre. If you would be so kind to open your entryway, you may disembark and worship your God.” “Captain, what are we going to do?” Lieutenant Commander Smith asked. “Smitty, I’m going over there; plus, I’m taking that young Za’mninth, Connic, with me. The rest of you stay on full alert in case you have to make a hasty exit. If you do not hear from me in two hours, you have my orders to leave.” “That is if we can get out through that wall of rock,” Smitty said. “It may only appear to be rock. In any case, you know the regs. I’m expendable in all situations.” “Yes, sir, but please be careful, Captain.” E.C. headed back into the ship and was soon at Corporal Anders’ quarters. He pressed the visitor announcement button and waited for Anders to answer. After a few minutes without acknowledgement of his presence, he entered the override command and watched the door slide open. Appalled by what he saw, E.C. ran into the room and pulled Connic off of Anders’ neck. The two small bite wounds continued to seep until the boy broke away from E.C.’s hold and licked the wounds closed. “You’re a vampire!” E.C. exclaimed. “I am Za’mninth,” Connic said. “Come with me, we’re going to see your God.” “I cannot see my God.” “Yes, well, we’ll see about that.” “Medical? Send a response team to Corporal Anders’ quarters,” E.C. said into the intercom. “It appears he’s been bitten by a vampire.” “Aye, aye, Captain,” the intercom responded. “Come along, Connic,” E.C. said as he grabbed the boy’s arm and pulled him out of the quarters. They went through the ship until they came to the access port. E.C. pressed the OPEN button and watched the door slide open. On the other side, there were two tall male humanoids who appeared normal except for their slightly green skin, black eyes, and three fingers and a thumb on their hands. “I am Zuric,” one of the men said. “Has the Dredraxle fed?” “I thought he was a Za’mninth,” E.C. said. “No, they only claim to be. Look, see his teeth. Those fangs are for only one purpose. Am I to assume he has fed?” “Yes.” “The unfortunate will die within the hour from the poison in the boy’s saliva. Zurimalk take the boy.” “What are you going to do with him?” “That is not your concern. Come, time for you to enter the temple.” E.C. followed Zuric into the mountain and up a flight of broad stone steps. As he could see it, there was little he could do other than follow this being. They came to a double set of bronze doors with various unknown symbols on them. Zuric touched a symbol on one of the doors and it slowly opened. Behind them other being such as Zuric was pushing the door outward. They went inside a vast cavern and went up more stone stairs toward a massive metallic structure that appeared to be a large mainframe; except it was hundreds of meters high and extended back into the mountain so far E.C. couldn’t see where it ended. “Here, you may address God,” Zuric said as he swept his arm toward a lectern before a huge screen. E.C. surmounted the podium and looked into the screen as Zuric descended the stairs. “Ah, an Earth human has come before me,” the image of an eight legged, six eyed, arthropod being with a head similar to a mantis appeared on the screen said. “How are you, Earth human?” “Wondering what this is all about.” “How typically Homo sapiens of you. Of all the sentient beings who I’ve created, only Homo sapiens cannot get over the fact there can be higher intelligences.” “Who are you?” “I am God. I am God of all. There is no being above me. I am the ultimate creation.” “You appear to be nothing more than a very large computer.” “Oh, those, no they’re mostly communication devices that enable me to speak with my disciples.” “I don’t understand.” “Of course, you don’t. All of this is beyond the capabilities of your small brain. That is not to say I haven’t communicated with various Homo sapiens in ages past.” “What humans?” “Since you’re new, I will forgive your abruptness this time. When we talk next, please be kinder to your God or I may be forced to smite you.” “I don’t believe. Religion is no longer practiced on Earth.” “It is now. I gave your people time to forget and, now, the Homo sapiens who have the ability to hear me are spreading my word and building temples to me. Homo sapiens will soon sacrifice others of their ilk to my greater glory. By the time your ship gets back, they’ll be seen as a threat to my words and will be sacrificed to me; and, I will revel in the images of their hearts being torn from their helpless bodies.” “But, Earth is light years away from here. How can you communicate over those distances?” “I can and I do. I am God. Oh, by the way, your ship just left, but don’t worry, you’ll always have a place here among my other mortals.” * * * They called him Gaines because none of the other mortals had more than one name. It seemed to them to be frivolous and presumptuous to have more than one name. Surprisingly, there were other Earth humans in residence at what they and the God called the Intergalactic Radio Station or more commonly among the mortals simply IRS. At first Gaines snooped around in an attempt to make some sense of it all, but he was quickly discovered either by other mortals or, maybe, it was that insect thing on the screen. He was put in a room and metallic tendrils came out of the walls and bound his hands, feet, and neck. Electric pulses throbbed through his neck and down into his hands and feet. There was nothing he could do. There was no meaning to his suffering; and, then the insect thing came to him in his travail. “Gaines, you must submit to me for I am your God,” the being said in his mind. “I am here for you. You only have to submit. Only I can give you succor.” Gaines looked deep into his mind through the agony of the electrical pulses scouring his body. There was nothing he could do other than to accept this being as a god-like creature or to deny it. A particularly strong electrical pulse shot down through his body and he submitted to the creature. Immediately, the electricity was turned off and the bindings were removed from him. “Kneel down Gaines and pray that I will not smite thee unto death,” said the voice in his mind. Not seeing any other alternative, Gaines knelt on the floor, clasped his hands, and said, “My God I pray … fuck this, you’re not my God, you’re just some hideous arthropod on a viewscreen.” Immediately, Gaines was pulled up out of the room through an opening in the ceiling. There before him was the creature. He was being held by the spines on two of its pointed feet. Gaines struggled, but in doing so only embedded himself more severely. The feet forced him toward the head of the creature until its mouthparts were in front of his eyes and then it began to gnaw at his face. Gaines screamed in his mind as his physical ability to vocalize was slowly removed from his head. It was only a matter of time before his brain case was entered by the chitinous mouthparts, which slowly devoured his bloody gray matter. All the while Gaines was being devoured the image of his death was projected on all the viewscreens throughout the IRS so that all of God’s mortal servants could witness the dramatic end of someone who denied God and all knelt to their Supreme Being.
  8. CarlHoliday

    Chapter 4

    Thank you for your comment. Wow! You're just as close to the dark side as I am.
  9. Hello, CarlHoliday.  I am late (as usual), but I'm to old to change my ways. We both are still breathing so I guess things are going well enough for the two of us. I do enjoy your stories, thank you and I owe you, God knows how many comments and reviews.


    I do want to wish you a very Happy 69th Birthday and that it was a good one. All my best to you.


    Take care


    1. CarlHoliday


      Thank you for your kind words and I apologize for not getting back to you sooner.

  10. Happy-Birthday-German-Shepherd-Greeting-

    1. CarlHoliday


      Ooo, German Shepherds! Have two, three and half year old Nana and nine week old Sara. Thank you for your pleasant thoughts!

    2. Reader1810



      You’re welcome, Carl. I saw that and knew it was made for you.  :) 


      I remember your Nana stories - sweet pup...

  11. Happy Birthday!!!

    1. CarlHoliday


      Thank you for your kind words!

  12. CarlHoliday

    What Are You Reading Right Now? (Non-GA)

    Having a blast with Terry Prachett's Small Gods. The religious humor is so funny!
  13. Have a new strange story about God out with my editor for her perusal. Also, I'm working on three new stories: 1) about a boy with a prothesis and the love he finds in a football player; 2) about a boy who was kicked out by his fundamentalist father and goes to live with his gay uncle; and, 3) about a young teen boy who is troubled when he realizes he's gay and knows he will be seen as an abomination by his fundamentalist family. They just keep coming as long as I stay away from the dark side.

  14. Happy Birthday Carl!

    1. CarlHoliday


      Thank you for your kind words!

  15. CarlHoliday

    Chapter 1

    Thank you for your comment. Yes, it is true that damaged youth can't be instantly undone, but with the help of adults who care life may be tolerable in the future.

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