Dog Park Reviews by Rusty & Milo – Happy Tails in Roseburg, OR

A few weeks ago Milo and I (I’m Rusty!) stole Mom’s computer so we could write a dog blog. It was awesome! I had so much fun that I decided to keep doing it as often as I can get away with it!

Hey! It’s me, Rusty!
…and it’s Milo….

I figured that you don’t all want to read about what other dog’s butts smell like, or about my running tally of bees that I’ve eaten (it’s such a rush, man!), so I have decided to write about the dog parks we go to. Milo and I love going to the park, it’s awesome! We get to run around without our leashes and pee on anything that we want! It’s crazy fun!

So here is my first Dog Park Review

Happy Tails Dog Park – Roseburg, Oregon
East Drive, 80233 Roseburg, United States
Facebook

This is me going into the dog park to meet everyone and pee on the gate.

This park was pretty big. There was plenty of room to run around and get other dogs to chase you. Lots of trees to hang out in the shade or pee on. It was awesome.

It wasn’t too hot, but shade is always good after running around!

There were three fire hydrants! Three of them! It was awesome.

THREE!

They also have a swimming pool! It was awesome!

I didn’t swim in it, but I drank a bunch from it. It was awesome!

We met two other dogs while we were there. One of them had to wear a face blanket. It was weird!

Look! How do they eat? What’s it for? Wait..oh. If I don’t stop barking at everyone in the campgrounds I may get one too? Um. Moving on. Not awesome.
I was getting pretty tired after running around so much.
The fence is falling down in some places, but it looks like peoples are trying to fix it.
Can you smell that tree? It’s awesome!
Oh! Smell this one! I peed on it! It was awesome.

So, for my first Dog Park Review I give this park 2 out of 4 Awesome Paws! 

Book Review – Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Book Review

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Another suspenseful thriller by the author of Gone Girl. Dark Places is the story of Libby Day who confronts her traumatic childhood memories of the murder of her mother and two sisters.  Libby begins her own investigation into the murders, and into the possibility that her brother is innocent of the crime.

Flynn is a great storyteller. She creates interesting and flawed characters that the reader can really connect with. I would recommend, both, Dark Places and Gone Girl.  

“I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ. Slit me at my belly and it might slide out, meaty and dark, drop on the floor so you could stomp on it.”
― Gillian FlynnDark Places

“I was not a lovable child, and I’d grown into a deeply unlovable adult. Draw a picture of my soul, and it’d be a scribble with fangs.”
― Gillian FlynnDark Places

“But I was born bent out of shape. I could picture myself coming out of the womb crooked and wrong. It never takes much for me to lose patience. The phrase fuck you may not rest on the tip of my tongue, but it’s near. Midtongue.”
― Gillian FlynnDark Places

 

Story Time – Old God New by M.D. Parker

It was a soft chime that signaled the readiness of the mixture. She considered it for a moment; a soft chime. There should be bells and celebratory horns of cheer, she thought. If only this machine knew what it had just done.

She gripped the cylinder with all four gloved digits wrapped tight. A thought launched from her lower brain, traveled down the cable into the robotic arm of the lab’s chair and swung her around. She came face to face with the tube. The side was open and waiting, like the arms of a mother. Gently, she laid the canister in and locked it into place. The tube’s walls closed in checkerboard materialization until the sidewall was whole and solid. The chair brought her to the communications terminal of the laboratory. She pressed one button and a familiar, yet unfriendly, face greeted her on the screen.

“It is ready,” she said. The face did not answer. His elongated head and prominent brow ridge just nodded, and cut the visual connection.

On one end of the lab was the quarantine chamber. The large transparent wall allowed for ease in observing whatever subject may have to reside in there. But it was the window at the opposing end of the laboratory that held the subject she was interested in. Out there, beyond the transparent screen, floated a young orb surrounded by the coldness of space.

The chair’s multi-jointed arm lifted and realigned itself, positioning her one-quarter of a meter from the windowed wall. The tilt of the ship allowed her to look downward and stare at the blue-green ball that had so recently coalesced into its planetary shape. From this view she could not see the volcanoes that were bursting across the surface, nor the geologic plates that wrestled each other in a struggle to find position. This world had just been born and was still in the throes of infancy. It was beautiful.

She knew the window’s screen would allow for magnification. She could look down on the primordial soup of the seas that covered so much of the surface, but she did not. She loved the view from up high; to be able to take in the whole of this world at once.

“Doctor, the Admiral has requested that you accompany him on the bridge’s observation deck while the capsule is implanted.”

She had not heard them enter. She turned in her chair and watched as they escorted the tube out the laboratory. It’s silvery-white housing hovering its way through the door guided by the device held in the speaking one’s hand.

“Yes, of course,” she said.

She dismounted her chair and followed them out. Her stark, white body wrap stood in metaphoric contrast to their industrial graphite colored ones. A junction in the hallway separated them from her. They continued down the hall, while she found her way to a lift platform that took her to the Admiral’s observation level.

Many others were there and had been awaiting her arrival. She tried to divert her eyes from them as they spoke her name and gave praise and appreciation for her accomplishments. Some of them truly meant it, she realized. Some cared little for the science and only what they could make of her design. Their adulation was false, and the words which they spoke held a stink that she swore would blacken her mind if she spent more time among them.

“Doctor, thank you for joining us,” The admiral nodded again. His brow lifted and his arms extended as he turned to face the others once she had taken her position within the room.

“My fellows,” he continued. “Today we have embarked on a great experiment. On behalf of the council, I thank each of you for your individual part. Now, I will turn us over to the doctor as she guides us through the final implementation of the project. Doctor… the short version, if you will.”

“Yes, of course,” she said.

She gestured them to the window screen where she began explaining how the project had come from dream to idea to fruition. She quickly took them through each of the steps that had brought them all to why they stood before her.

“… and finally we see the capsule being launched. The mixture of amino acid compounds that define our structural genetic coding is making its way to the chosen planet. This planet. The third from its sun in this isolated arm of its galaxy. From here we will learn if we will become gods.”

M.D. Parker on Facebook and Twitter

 

Book Review – Finding Alice by Melody Carlson

Book Review – Finding Alice by Melody Carlson

Finding Alice is about a young woman attending college that starts to show symptoms of schizophrenia. She quickly learns that of the worst things about being crazy is that you really have no idea that you are crazy.

With the “help” of her family and the exorcisms from her local church, Alice runs away just to feel safe. She spends time living on the streets before she finds a kind woman who offers her a place to stay, which is a turning point for Alice and her “friends” that live inside her brain.

The book is pretty good. It gives the reader a decent insight into mental illness, which is something that we should all try to understand. It does seem to lean toward being a religious story, but with strong opinions against hallelujucination. I may read other books by Melody Carlson, but probably only if I find them in a thrift store. Good to pass the time, but I don’t want to spend full price. 

 

 

 

Cottonwood Canyon State Park – Wasco, Oregon

Cottonwood Canyon near Wasco, OR is Oregon’s newest state park. All sites are primitive, but there are vault toilets and potable water in the park.

The Cottonwood Canyon brand

The campground sits right on the John Day River, so we had access to swimming and fishing. The fishing was great there, everyone around us was catching a lot…not us, but everyone around us.

Kayaks on the John Day
View of the John Day River flowing through Cottonwood Canyon.

Cottonwood Canyon is meant to give you the feel of the ranching days of the past. There is a barn, cattle shoots, corals, old farming equipment, water troughs, and more.

Cottonwood Canyon barn – go ahead and sneak in and roll in the hay all night. I will deny telling you that it is okay to do that.
There’s probably someone rolling in the hay in this picture. What? It’s not me…I was taking the picture.
Local cattle brands are branded on the fences.
Super old mower thingabop.
Superman: [hardly breathing] You’re letting them kill Murtha… Batman: What does that mean? Why did you say that name? Superman: Find him… Save Murtha… Batman: Why did you say that name? Murtha? Why did you say that name? WHY DID YOU SAY THAT NAME? Lois Lane: [enters running] It’s his cow’s name! It’s his cow’s name.
Tack. Tak. “Tak is here now, and he speaks with the voice of the older age;” -Stephen King.
“What? You’ve never seen a guy with a chainsaw for a hand?” -Ashley James Williams
“Would you like to see my pleasure barn?” -Chrisbob Grey.

Pay attention to the fencing around the campground, as it tells a story worth paying attention to.

In wildness is the preservation of the world.” – Henry David Thoreau
“The ways of those who have come before.” -Fence
“Your path is under your boot soles.” -Fence

The information station is great with a solar charging station for your cell phone that you won’t have a signal on. There are also rocking chairs, and an outdoor wooden checker game. Feel free to ring the dinner bell, too.

“Well I followed her, to the station With a suitcase in my hand.” – Rolling Stones
Charging station.
Have a seat. Stay awhile.
Have some lemonade and play some checkers on the porch.
CHOW TIME!!

The night sky is framed by the canyon hills and is a beautiful sight to see.

Night sky over the canyon
The morning sky was worth taking a look at too!

Cottonwood Canyon also has free mountain bikes for camper use. There are multiple trails to ride on, including a path right beside the river that takes you past some pretty fascinating geological sights. Due to a chubby butt and a bum knee, I did not partake in the bicycling, but the hubs did and he wrote a blog for you about it, which is coming up next!

 

Astoria, Oregon

After the awesome (yet CRAPPER), time at Fort Stevens, we took a drive through Astoria to see the sites.

The Wildlife
As we were pulling out of Fort Stevens State Park there was a small group of elk leisurely grazing right next to the road.

This one was pretty gimpy – if you look at his right back leg, it looks swollen.
These elk were just a few feet from us.

The Astoria Column
The Astoria Column was finished in 1926. The Column is a historical monument which tells the story of the discovery and settlement of the Columbia River until the arrival of the railway.

I’m sure the men that constructed this did not intentionally create a phallic symbol….

The monument only costs a few dollars, but it is good for the entire year in case you want to visit again – or gift to someone else that is going. (I don’t know if you are really supposed to do that, so you didn’t hear it here!)

The phallus is a symbol of power and male sexuality. — You know what they say; Big column, little….
The men of the phallus.

The Goonies
The Goonies was filmed on the northern Oregon coast, including locations in Astoria. The old Clatsop County Jail was in the movie, and it is now a Film Museum. We also sought out the house from the movie, but sadly they do not welcome guests anymore.

There will be no truffle shuffle here.
You schmuck! Do you really think I would be stupid enough to kill myself?
Goonies never say die.

The Peter Iredale Shipwreck
The Peter Iredale shipwreck was also in a few movies, including The Road starring Viggo Mortensen. The novel, The Road, was written by Cormac McCarthy and is an awesome read! The story takes place after the apocalypse, telling you about a man and his son trying to survive.

Scene from The Road.
View of the Peter Iredale Shipwreck
The wreck waits for the apocalypse to bring the rest of the world to the same condition.
Wear your life preservers in case of sinking ship.

Astoria is lovely with views of the Astoria Bridge from most of the town. Over 75% of the homes in the city were built prior to 1959. The old homes are large and beautiful, with attention to details. 

Gorgeous homes!
The Astoria Bridge.

Visit the City of Astoria. 

Fort Stevens – Hammond, Oregon

Fort Stevens near Astoria, OR was constructed in 1863-64  to defend the mouth of the Columbia River. On June 21, 1945 Fort Stevens was attacked by a Japaneses submarine – for reasons still questioned, the fort did not return fire.

Structure known as Battery Russell.
In the event of the zombie apocalypse, we at Write on the Road have stated “Claimed.”
I have always wanted a winding staircase.

The fort is now an Oregon State Park that includes camping, hiking, biking and the ability to explore Fort Stevens remains and buildings.

Big Boom Maker – even better than a boomstick, baby.
Jeep outside the Fort Stevens Interpretive Center
Large gun pointing toward the mouth of the Columbia River – and they say size doesn’t matter
Display inside the Interpretive Center.
Historical artifacts and information on display. Also –  this guy know what you did last summer.
Ancient bowling ball used by a giant-thumbed man in prehistoric times (he was also really good at hitchhiking). Also – that is made up – it’s a cannon ball.

The majority of the buildings and structures in Fort Stevens are still intact. You are able to enter most of the structures, though some only on scheduled tours. There are plenty of volunteers around for the guided tours, history lessons, and information. We did not take a guided tour while we were there because once we arrived, we knew what we needed to do right away….

 

As always, our trusty sidekicks were up for anything!

And that was the of the start of Completely “Real” Analysis of Paranormal & Psychic Entities Research, or CRAPPER. CRAPPER is a team of two travelers seeking made up stories and fictitious hauntings, using imaginative falsehoods to fib to you about hauntings, possessions and all other kinds of paranormal malarkey.

Inspiration for CRAPPER
Mike – Co-founder of CRAPPER
MeLisa – Co-founder of CRAPPER

Our CRAPPER investigation started at the structure named Battery Russell, which is a gun battery that sits away from the rest of Fort Stevens. This building stands alone, which means that ghosts and spirits that are more introverted will haunt these types of areas.

Knowing how the ghosts are likely to be introverted, I avoided taking pictures of them as much as possible.
This pit on the upper floor of the Battery Russell was obviously used by the military for getting pumped up for battle by playing “THIS IS SPARTA!”
These holes were meant for something very militaryish, but are now used as glory holes for spirits with a sense of perverted humor.
Hooks in closets for storage of hoses, chain hoists, and shell tongs. Paranormal entities may now use them for storing their own chains, and shrouds during hot weather.
Lantern Niche originally used for…lanterns. There are also blind niches found throughout the battery, which is convenient for the spirits with optical impairments.

Concluding our investigation at Battery Russell, CRAPPER moved on to the main areas of the fort. The ghosts and spirits that reside in the main area should be more extroverted, which means we may find some interactions.

This large iron hoop was used for hoists and pulleys, but is now used to control gargantuan hell hounds.
The structures at Fort Stevens have multiple staircases, which means that the ghosts can float or climb the stairs depending on their personal preferences.
First interaction here! We are the Parkers – the haunting spirits here are obviously trying to make contact!
The remnants of an angel bursting into flames on the wall leads me to believe that there was a great battle between good and evil here – and evil won. Does it still remain?
Indisputable evidence that it does.

We continued on with our investigation, exploring as many nooks and crannies that we could. There were rooms in complete darkness, old weapons in storage behind locked gates, and even more evidence of attempts to make contact with CRAPPER.  

A few sections of the buildings were off limits due to not being structurally sound. It is unknown if this was caused by natural elements or by battles between the light and the dark.
The tracks along the ceiling were used to move the large ammunition throughout the battery. While walking underneath them I heard an eerie voice crying “An upside-down roller-coaster! Look Ma! No hands!”
A locked portion of the fort that leads to underground bunkers. I am unsure what may remain behind the gates.
Behind these locked gates is sporting equipment that more adventure seeking ghosts have obviously stolen. – They lost everything when they died, don’t you think that includes athletic equipment?
Here is an example of a blind niche (mentioned earlier) that is used by the visually impaired spirits.
Another message received from the spiritual realm. We tried to assist with GPS coordinates, but seemed to only cause frustration.
The spirit showed CRAPPER their frustration by possessing this harmless bird. After possession, the bird swooped toward us with fury and anger on it’s little bird face. Eventually it flew down a dark corridor to find it’s master.
A lantern niche with iron gates to keep the spirits from blowing out the lanterns and then yelling “BOO” in the darkness.
This looks similar to the “THIS IS SPARTA!” hole from earlier, however this one has tiny bleachers for audiences of gnomes or fairies to watch the Spartan pep rally’s.
The shell room originally used for storage. Sadly, there are no remains of the sea shells that were stored here. We believe they were moved out of the fort to be used in a Grandma’s ocean themed garden.
The final contact. Upon leaving the shell room, we discovered that the spirits changed the name – we assumed it was another attempt at contact with CRAPPER. Upon this discovery we rapidly re-considered our decision to CRAPPER, and left before we shit ourselves.

DISCLAIMER – All CRAPPER “facts” are crap.

Fort Stevens State Park and Historical Site

 

 

Redwoods and Trees of Mystery

Majestic.

Awe inspiring.  

Magnificent.

Grand.

Splendid.

BIG.

Just some descriptive words that come to mind in the California Redwoods.

That’s some big wood…
…that’s what she said.

We just visited the northern parts of the Redwoods, near Jedediah Smith National and State Parks. We spent a few days exploring the forests, rivers, and parks.

Howland Hill Road. An excellent motor tour through the giant trees.
How many trees can you plant in an empty forest? One. After that, it’s not empty anymore.
It takes a long time to say anything in Old Redwoodish -and we never say anything unless it is worth taking a long time to say.

Our favorite part of the visit was Trees of Mystery. Trees of Mystery allows you to bring your four-legged friends in with you! So, Rusty and Milo got to go play tourists with us and even got to ride a gondola up the SkyTrail.  Trees of Mystery is gorgeous and worth the ticket price!

Paul Bunyan and Babe are at the entrance to welcome you to Trees of Mystery.
Rusty and Milo were VERY excited about Trees of Mystery!
This guy makes me think about how I feel after too much to eat and not enough nap.

 

The Elephant Tree
Nature’s Underpass
Nom. Nom. Nom.

 

What are we doing next? We already peed on every tree here!

 

SkyTrail Gondola

 

Um. Someone is taking the ground away. We should get out. – Milo.
Rusty enjoyed the view!

 

10 Things You Don’t Really Need to Know About the Oregon Coast, but I’m Going to Tell You Anyway

10 Things You Don’t Really Need to Know About the Oregon Coast, but I’m Going to Tell You Anyway

We are heading out of Coos County this coming week and traveling all the way up Oregon’s Highway 101. While looking for things to do and see, I came across these Oregon Coast facts – You’re Welcome.

10. All 363 miles of Oregon’s ocean beaches are designated as public land. No snobby private beaches here!

Bastendorff Beach – Charleston, OR. No fancy-pants beach snobs here!

9. Along the 363 miles of public beaches there are 9 public Lighthouses.

Coquille River Lighthouse – Bandon, OR.

8. 18,000 Gray Whales migrate twice a year along the Oregon Coast making whale watching a popular dillydallying adventure.

Whale watching in Coos Bay, OR. I have lived near the Oregon Coast for most of my life and have yet to get a decent photo like this one found at kcby.com – Oh whale.

7. The largest sea lion cave in the world is located just north of Florence, Oregon.

We went to Sea Lion Caves just north of Florence, OR last fall, but the sea lions were all out to sea while we were there. Tickets are good for one year after purchase so you can return when they are in the caves. I would have loved to have gotten some of my own photos of the sea lions, but I just couldn’t seal the deal.
  1. In 1970 a beached whale carcass on an Oregon beach was blown to bits by dynamite. 

  1. The sun goes down about ten minutes later on the Oregon Coast than in inland towns like Portland or Eugene. 
    On the other hand, the coast range mountains will cause the sunrise to be later on the coast – so hit the snooze button twice to balance it all out.

    4. The Tillamook Cheese Factory is the largest cheese factory in the world. And they have free cheese samples. Are you excited? No? FREE CHEESE SAMPLES! 

It ain’t easy being cheesy – but some of us just have natural talent. (Follow the photo link to read a great blog post about visiting the Tillamook Cheese Factory.)
  1. Sand Dollars are not actually accepted as currency…apparently.  
I’m suddenly creeped out by the mobility of my preferred currency.
  1. Lincoln City is the proud home of the world’s shortest river. D River is just 121 feet long.
The size of the D shouldn’t matter….
  1. During the Great Depression, the coastal town of North Bend used wooden coins as currency. – I would have rather had a sand dollar…
I couldn’t find an awesome picture of an original North Bend, OR Myrtlewood coin – BUT I did find this sweet Myrtlewood Gondor Pipe! Whichever reader buys this for me will get to share the first load of Halflings’ Weed with me.

 

Story Time – The Genesis Echo (An Excerpt) by M.D. Parker

M.D. Parker, the husband half of Write on the Road, has launched a Kindle Scout Campaign. Please take a minute and go nominate his novel for publication! It is FREE! All you need is an Amazon or Kindle login. If his book is chosen to be published, you will receive a FREE copy of the novel just for nominating it! Thank you so much for your support! Please go HERE to nominate! You can read the excerpt below.


The Genesis Echo (An Excerpt)

She stopped spinning the metallic cup and watched as the liquid continued to swirl inside. She lifted her vision without lifting her head to the edges of the room. The barman stood in front of a mirrored glass serving wall, which she used to further scan the depth of the room. Lyn brushed back the single lock of blonde-streaked hair that hung in front of her face. Might be time to change it now that the job is over. Maybe red this time. It’ll match, she thought as she noted the drops of dried blood on her coat sleeve. Yes, the job was done. Each job came with its own highs and lows. This time had been especially low, but a job is a job… until the next one comes. At least she got herself a little personal bonus on the side. She wiped at the stain on her sleeve.

There were other patrons off to her right seated at the polished wood-trimmed metal bar. She wondered where the barman could have acquired so much glass and wood in this forsaken little system. Her mind took a brief stroll trying to estimate the sheer cost of it all. She knew her estimates were coming up short. Why would someone have put so much into a nameless hellhole like this? I guess it’s not nameless, she thought, remembering the image of the glowing sign above the door that read simply: Bar-04. She took a long swallow from her cup. She snickered out loud; both at the wasted extravagance, and the man moving toward her from her left side.  

Lyn had already taken notice of him. His stance and coy attempts at stalking her without being seen had given her all the information she needed. She wondered why he couldn’t do the same? He only saw what he wanted, and paid no mind that she was clearly not there to talk to anyone – especially him. Well, might be fun to shatter a man-child’s dreams today.

He moved, oblivious to her subtle shift in posture. Lyn studied his reflection through the mirrored wall at the edge of her vision. He was coming in from her left, and it was obvious he failed to note that she was armed. A smart man would have looked her over completely. A smart man would have seen the sidearm on her lower hip, and the utilitarian way her hair was tied back. Most importantly, he would have noticed she had not spoken to a single other soul since she entered the backwater hole tucked into the space left between two backwater colony outbuildings.

She was the antithesis. For Lyn had already looked him over. The pilot’s jumpsuit with the top unzipped and tied about his waist revealing what he hoped was a desireable chest covered in an undershirt at least a size too small. She watched his stance, the way his eyes wandered the room without taking in its depth. She saw the smoothness of his hands, the cleanness of his hair, and the lack of wear on the jumpsuit. All betrayed the lie he was trying to sell of a well-worked and rugged male specimen. He was not that smart. Maybe, this would be entertaining. Her forehead lowered her eyebrows as her eyes narrowed. She smelled the residue of his perfumed soap. He was almost to her.

Lyn spun herself around, dropping off her stool with her feet slightly apart. She did not allow the startled reaction of her sudden movement to wane. She moved with rehearsed speed. Her left hand clutched the front of his undershirt, snapping his head backward as she jerked him forward into her. Her face moved alongside his. Cheek to cheek their skin almost touched.

“Hush. Say nothing,” She felt a smile grow on her lips. “Say nothing at all. I wanna make sure you hear every word.” She waited for him to nod before going on and saw the light of perverse hope in his eyes. “Go away from me. Do so quietly and I won’t embarrass you in front of all these nice people.”  

He drew in a breath and she continued before his mouth could betray his body, “I’m not looking. I am not interested. You can’t handle me. So we share a mind – I would rather have a romp with a Clicker than even think about how you’re going to end up diddling yourself alone tonight. Hush.”  She put a single finger up to his lips, and then patted his cheek as she pushed back. “Now, be a good boy and try to remember, I don’t know what patience is.”

Lyn began to turn as he stepped into her, his fingers curling around her wrist.

“Feisty one, aren’t ya?”

I told him, she thought. He’s just not a smart one. She rolled her arm up and around locking the same arm that he just attempted to control her with. She brought her other hand up, hard into the underside of his jaw. She heard the teeth slam together in his head and wondered how big the piece of tongue was that just detached from the rest. Her foot came down along the back of his knee and she made no effort to control his descent. His forehead struck the bar on the way to floor.  She let him go.

“See? No patience.”  

Lyn pantomimed brushing her hands off on her rust-colored dungarees and straightening the tan waistcoat she was wearing. A few people stopped with their eyes locked on her little scene. She picked up her drink, moved one stool over, sat back down, and took in one large gulp.

She began cataloging the two men at the end of the bar. They seemed most interested in what just happened – their eyes reviewing her.  The shorter one was more stout with a scarred forehead and a militant haircut of flaming red hair. The other was taller, thin, and dark skinned like the blackness of the Void itself. His hair had begun to lose color, showing a paleness at the edges that was neither gray nor white exactly. His eyes showed a slight unevenness. The left one with a laziness that was almost unperceivable, as if he was trying to self-cure his amblyopia. They both still held the same drinks in their hands that they ordered when they entered.   

She set herself against the leering gaze and locked eyes with them, one at a time, in turn. Lyn gave Stumpy the once over first, realizing that he was sitting straight up, not slumped over or leaning into the bar, making him shorter than her, but he would still be the bigger problem if it came to that. Darkey on the other hand was leaning, and was still taller. Something in their eyes; they were sizing her up. Neither seemed to be interested in duplicating the man-child’s mistake, nor did they want to take on something of a more sporting nature, they were mentally recording all of her. They were… assessing her. She saw then that Stumpy was no longer watching her, but seeing something behind her, something her attention had been diverted from.  

She became so transfixed with what Stumpy and Darkey were doing that she ignored the rest of Bar-04. That was until she noticed Stumpy’s single nod to her. The subtle indicator that maybe she should turn around. And turn she did, but a nanosecond too late. Lyn didn’t see Mister I-lie-to-get-laid stand up. She did see the front of his closed fist as her face turned. She did hear some curse about her lineage and her ignorance as the knuckles made contact with her upper lip and nose. As she slid off her barstool, she gathered her feet as best she could, and he laughed.  

Lyn didn’t hit the floor fully. She managed to get both feet under her, and raised her head to see him set himself for her counterstrike. He could fight, she saw, but he wasn’t practiced. She let him move in. She closed the distance as he started to change his weight. She allowed it to last long enough for him to get three swings, only one of which connected, albeit just a grazing blow. She merely gained a hold, introduced his abdomen to her knee and stood him back up with a second knee to his face. He grasped for her throat, and ended up with a thin lock of hair as he landed face up on the nearest table. In his rearward flail, he sent a hot drink flying into the lap of the blue-gray tinted skin of a Roliquin.  Bar-04 erupted.

“Fuck.” Was all she said before she started laughing her way through the next thirty seconds.  She backed against the bar to prevent someone circling. Lyn saw an incoming stool that missed its intended target, which she believed was the Roliquin, and was able to sidestep enough that its metal leg barely brushed by her hip. She spun and threw out a front kick into the gut of the first one coming at her. The man-child was back on his feet, and coming in for her. Behind him, four other patrons of Bar-04 were now involved in their own individual wars. The place descended into chaos. She smiled. She let him come. Lyn heard the crack of bone as she dropped him to the ground for the third time. Before he could make any attempt to regain his feet, she dropped on him wrapping herself around him. It’s what he had wanted all along, she considered as all of her teeth could be counted through her grin. His head lulled back onto her shoulder as his consciousness drifted away.

She began to release her grip. His eyes popped open. His hand, broken just above the wrist, clutched at her, “You’re going to have to kill us all,” he said.

She stopped.

His voice came out guttural and cracked. His eyes blank. On her knee, she still had a half hold on him as the words dripped out one by one. They were not his eyes. Not the eyes of the man-child she denied. Even the color in them had changed. The sounds of the ensuing bar brawl failed to reach her ears.

“You’re going to have to kill us all, before the morning comes, if you want to save yourself – if you want to save him,” said the sluggish voice from elsewhere.

She started to stand, to match the hair on the back of her neck and arms. She felt a hand reach and grab hold of her shoulder. The sounds of the bar returned. She dropped her shoulder, slacked her knees and spun, dropping low, to sweep out the legs of the new attacker. She missed as he was pulled back from behind. It was Stumpy, the redhead, being pulled back by Darkey.  

“Whoa!” Stumpy’s hands went up into a ‘not me’ gesture.  

“Quick! Follow us, and we can all get out of here.” Darkey nodded toward the front of the bar. The large round entrance, with a rolling pneumatic-powered door, sat open along its track with the final few inches protruding from the receiving recess in the wall.

There were seventeen others in the bar. Only two were not actively fighting or attempting to flee. Both were hiding under their tables, and by the end of the night, they would be the only ones to leave feeling they met someone new, someone special, in their life. Though they would never return to that particular watering hole, they would spend a great deal of time in them together. And when they did find themselves out, they would always sit near an exit.

The melee forced the three of them to fight their way out. Stumpy led and Darkey followed her. She saw Stumpy shove one off-balance man in greasy overalls out of their way as they went. Lyn put down two other patrons of the once quiet bar. One was just knocked back out of the way, but the other was sent to the stars and was not going to appreciate the first couple of hours after he woke up. She did not bother to turn and see how the dark one was doing.

Out the entrance and across the gap between buildings – down an open air corridor created by two buildings, set at a diagonal, to form an angled street – they went. Once on the main street, Lyn spat blood from her mouth and wiped at the trail coming from her nose. The streak of blood it left on her sleeve ran alongside the drops that had dried there before. The street was nearly deserted. A single shop, of what purpose she was clueless, stood open. A tracked people-hauler was parked across from them.

“I guess I should be thanking you for the assist.” Lyn nodded at Stumpy as she spoke.

“Evelyn Ab…” The dark one started, but was cut short.

“Lyn. Just Lyn,” she corrected him. Lyn instantly felt the rush of calculations going on in her head.  How did he know who she was, especially her whole name? Her innards twisted; nothing good was to come of this, she thought.

“Fine. Lyn. I would like to introdu…”

“Want to tell me how you know my name?” Her question shot across his words as a demand. She postured for the attack, wanting to keep him backpedaling. Who were these two?

“I was tryin’ to do just that.” His deep baritone voice carried a practiced authority. Nothing in his voice said he was pretending to be tough. It was the voice of someone sure of himself, in the I-have-been-in-charge-for-a-long-while kind of way.

“Well, then get to it.” She wasn’t about to let up. Her eyes darted back and forth between the two of them, watching their hands and stance. She searched for any sign of their next move.

“Lyn,” Darkey nodded toward her, still authoritarian, but with am allowed hint of submission, “this is Slone.” He motioned to Stumpy. “I’m Khenu, Captain of the Genesis.”

“So?”

“So, I’m here to offer you a job.” Khenu’s eyebrow lifted as the one he called Slone offered a medwipe to her. Lyn took it, and pinched her nose off to stem the bleeding.

“You didn’t tell me how you know my name.”

“No. I didn’t.” Khenu did not flinch; his jaw set. He stared straight at her. Lyn kept her shoulders squared off. The two spent a lifetime sizing each other up, from his blackened irises to her green ones and back. She’d been offered jobs under more questionable circumstances, and a job is a job. These two helped her when they had no cause to. Besides, she thought, maybe this time the job will have a better ending.

And twenty seconds into that lifetime Lyn relaxed her shoulders, straightened her tan waistcoat once more, lifted an eyebrow of her own, and spoke.

“What’s the job?”


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The Ghosts Between by M.D. Parker. Available on Kindle for $0.99 or Free with Kindle Unlimited!