“The Cannibal Killer” – Part IV: Private E-Papers of Michael Rhodes, June 18th, 2016

    For a moment I didn’t know what to do. I was certain Nadine could take care of herself, but then I realized her ‘attacker’ was wearing the same uniform I went to work in.

     Rushing forward I explained in a hushed voice, “Hold up, she’s with me!”

   “Rhodes?” the officer turned and I saw it was my boss, Sheriff Jim Parkes, looking none-to-pleased. “What the hell…”

     “Not so loud, we don’t want to give away our position,” I hissed and gestured that the three of us move out of the park.

     Nodding, he let Nadine go, but gestured that she was to lead the way.

    Once we were a safe distance Parkes growled, “Okay, this should be far enough. Now what the hell are you playin’ at? And you’d better not tell me you were going to try another decoy routine.”

    “Would you believe…” Nadine began, but I cut her off.

   “Actually we were, Chief. This Detective Nadine Collins from Maine. She and her people dealt with a similar set of murders but never caught the killer. She thinks our boy may be the same guy…”

    “And you came to try and help us catch him,” my boss finished with a nod. “You know there are procedures to be followed like introducing yourself at the station.”

    “You were already gone and Deputy Rhodes thought we might find you here,” Nadine supplied smoothly, while I gave him a rather believable account of what had supposedly happened up in Maine. As I spoke I noticed a faint greenish haze slowly building around us at ground level. I had an idea what that Nadine planned on letting my boss breathe her in so she could influence him, but I gave her the faintest head shake. You don’t work with a man for years without getting to know his mannerisms and way of thinking. And I could already tell he was buying my story because he trusted me. Hell the man had recruited me himself as soon as I had come back from the army He didn’t even bother to ask to see her credentials, instead he gave us the full rundown on the situation.

     He’d managed to pull in some extra help from the state. Several troopers were hidden throughout the park, while others were quietly patrolling the streets in unmarked vehicles. If our perp struck, we were going to run him to ground tonight.

    As we spoke I noticed the mist Nadine had created earlier was drifting off towards the park entrance and spread out until no trace of it could be seen. ‘Trying to do some recon, good plan,’ I thought to myself as Parkes continued to fill us in on the situation.

     Once he’d finished, Nadine and I shared what we had figured out about our Killer’s targets. Like me at first he seemed unimpressed until we got to the part about the women having an air of confidence which impressed him as much as it had me.

     “That would explain why he’s so violent with them,” he breathed after a moment. “Probably trying to kill the same woman over and over in his mind, but what about the cannibalism?”

    “We’re dealing with a sick mind, Chief,” I shook my head, “There could a be dozen demented reasons why he’s eating them… sort a souvenir? A way of keeping them close to him? I don’t know…”?

     At this point we both turned to my companion saying, “You got any…” and then stopped. She had started moving back towards the park, following the same path her mist had taken moments before.        “Detective Collins? What is it?” Parkes shouted as the two of us started towards her.

   But just as we were about to reach her, she shouted over her shoulder, “He’s here! And so is someone else… a girl!” A second later, she was gone. Normally, Nate… I mean Nadine wouldn’t have let anyone see her inhuman speed in action, but a life was in danger and this was no time for being subtle.

    Not that I had any reason to worry, Parkes was busy barking orders into his radio alerting the rest of the team of the situation. He’d barely gotten the order out when a scream erupted from the darkness. The killer had struck.

    Without pausing we both raced into the park trying to figure out what direction the scream had come from when it erupted again, this time calling for help repeatedly. Following the sound we veered off the path and into the trees and bushes off to our left. The cries were getting louder when suddenly a young woman burst out of the darkness and into our arms, tears streaming down her dirt covered cheeks.

     “He’s near the lake and he’s got her…” she blubbed, still shaking. “He jumped me and had me on the ground when she came out of nowhere and threw him off me… She’d just helped me up when he jumped her from behind and stabbed her in the back… she just stared at me and told me to run…”

     As she spoke two of my fellow deputies appeared on the scene.

    Grabbing his shoulder radio Parkes barked, “Suspect sited near lake attacking a female detective, all boots on the ground converge on that area and engage. Patrol cars are to surround the park and form a perimeter, pursue anyone seen fleeing from the area.” Then turning to the new arrivals he ordered, “Take her to safety and call for a medical assistance and more back up. Rhodes you’re with me!”

     Weapons drawn we raced towards the lake. I could hear the sounds of a struggle up ahead, which suddenly stopped, sending a chill down my spine. Had Nadine already finished the guy?

     Still rushing forward we burst out of the trees and the sight that greeted us was more than a little unnerving. Both Nadine and the Cannibal Killer were on the ground, several feet from each other. The latter was rolling around clutching his head and like he was having convulsions. Whereas Nadine, was simply lying on the ground unmoving, eyes wide as if she were staring into the pits of Hell itself…

“The Cannibal Killer” – Part III: Private E-Papers of Michael Rhodes June 18th, 2016

     For the record, I’ve always admired Uncle Nate but after tonight my respect for him has gone through the roof. When I got his e-mail last night telling me he was on the way to help deal with the monster who’s been terrorizing our town, I was relieved. But when he showed up… no, wait. I need to take a few steps back. I’ve got to tell this story right.

      Besides telling me he was on the way, the e-mail listed a time and place for us to meet tonight. It’s an out of the way pub here in town called “Draughts“, which is where we normally get together. It’s a nice little place run by a father and son who, like me, are part of Nate’s extended family. Big Frank and Frank Jr. are good people and they know just about everyone here in town. They also know what you like to drink, so when I walked in a glass of my favorite brew appeared on the bar before I finished settling my ass down on the stool.

Bar scene

      I started to pull out my wallet and Big Frank shook his head, “Nate’s already got you covered tonight,” he told me with a knowing smile and wandered off to take care of some other patrons.

      Glancing around the room I saw a number of familiar faces and a couple of others I didn’t, like the pretty blonde down at the end of the bar. I knew she wasn’t from around here, a face like that everyone would know and remember, but by the same token I could also tell she wasn’t a ‘working’ girl either. For one thing she seemed absorbed in reading her Kindle, for another no one was hitting on her. A few of the guys I went to high school were looking her way and shaking their heads. Clearly they’d been shot down and were still trying to figure her out, but I had other things on my mind. Like where was Nate?

      After about thirty minutes there was still no sign of Nate anywhere. So I pulled out my phone and dialed the number I had for him, but after four rings it went to voicemail. Looking over at Big Frank who was talking to the blonde at the end of the bar, I caught his eye and gestured to him. After sharing a laugh with the girl, he came over and asked, “Need a refill?”

     Shaking my head I replied, “Nah, I’m good right now. You told me earlier Nate’s covering my drinks, so that means you’ve seen him. Do you know where he is? He was supposed to meet me here I’ve been waiting and waiting, but there’s no sign of him.”

      “That’s what you think,” he replied mysteriously.

     For a moment I started to get annoyed and then I remembered, Nate can take many forms and might be keeping a low profile for reasons of his own. Immediately, I scanned the room again for anything unusual.

     One or two people had left, and a young couple had appeared and were enjoying a quiet drink in one corner, but otherwise everything seemed the same. Then I started to take in the smaller details like was there any kind of hazy film in the air, or a “Red Mouse” (he loves to use those to spy on people or place), but there was nothing. Not even a black dog hanging around underneath the pool table, which he used one time which helped me and the team bust some drug dealers. But there was no joy in Mudville, once more it seemed I’d struck out.

     Shaking my head, I turned back to talk to Frank only to find the pretty blonde from the end of the bar was now on the other side of the bar slipping the flash drive I’d brought for Nate into not a Kindle but a tablet.

     I stared at her for a second and was about to protest when my eyes caught my reflection in the mirror of the bar behind her. I could see myself perfectly, but even though she was right in front of me there was no sign of blondie. Blinking I shook my head and muttered aloud, “Na…”

     “-Dine,” he cut in without taking his/her eyes off the screen. In the mirror’s reflection I could see he was flipping through the pages I’d scanned of the case at an incredible pace. It was like watching the character Quicksilver, from Marvel comics, going through a volume of “War and Peace”.

       After my initial surprise passed I leaned in closer and hissed, “I know you’re busy reading those files I scanned for you, but we might want to relocate to another area where there’s not a mirror where everyone CANNOT see your reflection in!”

      That got Nate. He/she… aw hell I’m going to call Nate her for the rest of this entry. It just makes things easier.

    Nadine’s eyes finally locked with mine and she muttered, “I thought we had that mirror replaced…” and quickly got out from behind the bar. We paused to retrieve her jacket and bag from the end of the bar. As we passed my old buddies shooting pool, I saw the looks of disbelief they were shooting me. I hung back briefly and leaned in to tell them, “Turns out she digs guys who wear uniforms.”

get-romantic-make-out

     As they shook their heads I followed Nadine to a secluded booth in the corner. But as I did, I found myself checking ‘her’ out. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Now I’d known for years that my ‘uncle’ could change form, but what I was seeing before me was beyond words. The way her hair fell, how she walked, every little gesture… I could swear I was in the company of a real woman.

    After we got settled in, she finished looking over the files and her face took on a troubled expression much like the ones I’d seen at work. “Now you know why I called you in,” I told her breaking the silence..

     She nodded. “Yeah, this one’s a real bastard.” Looking up at me she continued, “I think you’re right about the military training. I don’t know if he actually served or if the guy has been part of a para-military group, but he definitely knows what he’s doing.”

     “We’ve been thinking the same thing, much as everyone hates to admit it,” I told her. “The idea that someone we might know has been doing all this is just…”

     “Sickening,” she finished, “I know. I’ve been down this road before. When I was a kid, before I ‘changed’ we had a psycho running loose back in Pointer. Turned out to be someone we all knew and thought the world of… but that’s another story. From what I’ve seen in your files, this guy likes to abduct his victims and keep them alive for a few days before he’s done with them. Tell me, is there anyone missing right now that you know of?”

     “Not at the moment, which is why Terri tried acting as a decoy,” I explained. “We were hoping to lure him out. Our boss had people positioned all over the park, yet he still got to her and KNEW who she was!”

    “Which is why he tried killing her right there on the spot instead of kidnapping her,” Nadine nodded. “And yet he still got past everyone… which makes me think he’s a local. He must’ve known ways in and out of there to get away.”

     “We’re not that big a force,” I pointed out, “And things got chaotic when we saw how bad Terri had been hurt…” then stopped as she shook her head.

     “Plus, someone was burning rubber leaving the area, which threw you all off.”

     I nodded, “Turned out to be someone who’d heard her screams and instead of coming to help her, they took off while phoning it in. They had no idea we were already on the scene.”

     My face must’ve betrayed something because Nadine reached over and gave my hand a reassuring squeeze. “We’ll get this guy and put a stop to him once and for all, I promise.”

     I smiled back at her. “I know you will.”

     “WE will!” she corrected me and stood up. “Shall we get started? He’s out there and I came all this way looking my best just for him.”

     Standing up I followed her out of the bar and didn’t say anything until we were outside and out of earshot. “Do you really think your ‘disguise’ is going to lure him out?”

     “He has one type of girl he’s been going after. Blonde, young, good-looking, and with a lot of self-confidence.”

woman

     I paused in mid-step. “Okay… we knew about the first three but what about that last part?”

   Turning she replied, “A cheerleader, a local actress, two ‘working’ girls, all of them exude confidence and self-assurance. And so did your partner Terri.”

     It suddenly dawned on me, “So you’re thinking our boy has a thing against women who remind him of someone in particular. Who may be alive or already dead for all we know. And if she’s dead, he might have even done it himself, but once wasn’t enough.”

     “Exactly,” Nadine agreed and gestured, “Now let’s start with the park. He’s struck there a few times including the other night. If nothing happens I’ll spread myself out by mist or bat to see where else someone might be lurking. You keep your distance while I take the lead.”

     “And how am I going to know if you find the bastard?”

    She smiled and held up a closed hand. After a few seconds she opened it and there was a red mouse looking up at me expectantly. “Take him, he’s our link.”

     As I held out my hand, she transferred the critter into it and that’s when I noticed she was missing a finger. Then I remembered, she couldn’t make more of herself than there actually was. Her mass never changed when shape-shifting, so all she had a limited amount to work with.

     She must’ve noticed the look on my face for a moment later a new finger grew.

     As I put her little companion in my chest pocket, I gave her a questioning look.

    “I took a little off the waist and thighs,” she told me.

   Smiling I nodded and I let her lead the way. Of course I remembered to keep a good distance between us like she’d said. After all, we wanted our prey to come after her. And if he did, boy would he be in for a rude awakening. Nadine could handle herself and twenty of him even on a bad day. Still, we had to be careful. Even the best laid plans could go wrong.

park2

     She reached the park without incident which made me suspect if anything was going to happen, it would be in there. As it turned out I was right.

     For she got no more than forty feet in before a figure leapt out of the shadows…

TO BE CONTINUED…

Nathaniel’s Private E-Journal, January 1st, 2005 “Reflections and Looking Forward”


I’m standing on a deck overlooking the great wide Pacific Ocean.  Another year has passed but I am not alone.  I am surrounded by members of my extended family located in Aptos, California.  Although that’s not where I am at this moment.  We’re standing near the famed Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk having just watched a fabulous fireworks display out on the water.

The Cloudfoots have been part of my life since 1999 when I first met Jason, the patriarch of these wonderful people.  As their name implies, they are of Native American descent, specifically they are Seneca one of the five original tribes that formed the Iroquois Confederacy.

Together, Jason and I, along with Otto located his missing niece Julie who had run away from home just two days before Christmas.  The moment Jason and I locked eyes, I knew there was something different about him and I was right.  He was a shaman, one who knew about the Para-Earths, as Otto has named those alternate realities of this world.  Jason also knew right away I’d been to one and had come back changed, but he also knew I was still a good man and our friendship formed.

He’s here with me tonight enjoying the love and joy of his children and grandchildren.  Jason lost his wife two years ago, for which I was very sorry.  She had been a wonderful woman, warm and caring.  I’d spent that New Year’s Eve with him, to make sure he did not face it alone.  Not that I had much reason to worry.  Julie and her parents were there as well.  It was the first time I’d seen her in 1999 and my how she’d grown.  From the pudgy little girl I’d help locate, she was now slightly taller than me and still growing.  She also had filled out in more ways than one, especially in the muscle department.  I feel sorry for any boy who pissed her off.  Not that she seems very interested in them.  A part of me suspects her yearnings lie elsewhere.  I just hope I never have to compete with her for a date.

Not that such a thing is likely.  I’ve kept to myself more since Veronica and I parted company three years ago.  I’ve found myself thinking about her a lot tonight.  Probably it’s because of all the police officers watching over tonight’s festivities.  There was one female officer in particular standing near her patrol car that caught my eye.  She looked nothing like Veronica, but the way the officer stood there reminded me so much of my red-headed love.

 

God she was amazing.  It’s not often you find someone so passionate and dedicated, not only to you but to her work.  But I digress…

A new year stands before us all.  I have no idea what surprises this one will have in store for me or those I call ‘family’.  But I know I will not face this new year alone which is a great comfort.  I have people like Jason, Otto, Brian, their families and so many others who’s lives touch mine.  I think that’s been the greatest gift of all.  Even though I have outlived so many people who I’ve loved, I am never truly alone.  And because I remember, none of them are ever forgotten.

My existence is a strange one, but at least I find it serves so many others.

Jason is proposing another toast to all so I better wrap this up.  A promising new year awaits and I for one am looking forward to seeing what it has to offer.

LISA’S “PRIVATE THOUGHTS” – OCTOBER 22ND, 2014 “Something Bad Is Coming” Part – II

town

While I continue to watch the land slowly being bathed by the morning’s rays, the leading edge of the light begins to touch the edge of the dairy farm and halts.  Well, not exactly.  The light continues to stretch across the land, but it does so by going AROUND a portion of the farm, in particular the barn.  It’s almost as if that area has a barrier around it, which is repelling the dawn’s rays.

At first I shake my head, wondering if my eyes are playing tricks on me.  Perhaps some trees are casting a shadow over that spot, but no.  What I’m seeing is not a shadow, it’s something else, something sinister.

 barn

As I continue to watch, the edge of sunlight slowly closes around the dark area around the barn and continues to spread across the land.  That is of course when my mind starts thinking about Timothy Spratt and what my father had told me.  At this point I’ve usually woken up.  But last night the dream kept going.

Tearing my gaze away from the ‘shadowed’ barn I begin to study the rest of the town, to see if the effect is repeated anywhere else.  To my horror, it does.  Here and there, I notice a few other ‘blemishes’ appear in other parts of the town.  But the pattern is so sporadic, there does not appear to be any rhyme or reason to their locations.  It’s as if all that lay before me was a painting and someone had flicked a brush covered in some dark translucent stain across a canvas, marring the beauty of the scene.

None of it seems to make any sense… that is until the light reaches the grounds of the church.  It’s there that I see a much more heavy concentration of dark spots, mostly around a number of headstones in the newer sections of the graveyard.  Immediately I remember the Professor, I mean Otto, telling me and Marisa that the Ghoul-Slime… or Funus Sobrere (which is latin Corpse Absorber… see I’m already learning from him) preferred bodies of the recently deceased.

       This of course reinforces my first impression that Tim Spratt may have been one of the creature’s earliest victims, having seen the darkness around the barn.  But at the same time it doesn’t explain why I’m being shown this ‘overview’ of the town.  Are all these blemishes places where the Funus Sobrere had been?  And if so, why was there no other reports of people/animals dying or disappearing?

Then, as if in answer to my unspoken question my eyes drift, seemingly of their own volition, away from the church grounds to one of the other larger buildings in shadows.  It’s one of the medical buildings over on Clearwater Street.  Specifically, it’s the one that contains the local diagnostic lab.  I’ve had bloodwork done there and so has pretty much everyone in town.  There have been no deaths there that I can recall… then I remember the place had a break in and samples stolen…

Including ones that belonged to Marisa’s dad, which would explain how “Ghoul-Boy”… I mean the Funus Sorbrere knew about her father’s condition when it confronted us.  A chill runs through my body at the realization that the creature had actively been seeking out who would make a nice fresh corpse in the near future for it to absorb.

‘But the thing is dead,’ I tell myself in the dream.  ‘Tony… Pastor Gregory’s brother, who it had taken over, had destroyed himself and it in fire.  It’s gone, we’re all safe… right?’

By then a feeling of doom has taken hold and I look back to the rest of the town which has now been completely revealed, blemishes and all, by the morning sun.  All is quiet… almost too quiet.

Then I see the edges of each dark patch begin to move.  It’s a slow but steady movement.  Those closest to each other meet and become a larger patch and continue to spread, seemingly more rapidly because of their greater size.  In the churchyard this happens more quickly, since so many of the graves had been violated and tainted by the Funus Sorbrere.

I’m rooted to the spot, helpless to stop the progression as the blight spreads darkening more and more of my hometown.  Then I notice the farthest edge of the encroaching shadow begins begins to reach the outer edge of Nathan’s family estate and stops.

“Of course, Nathan was able to beat it to a standstill back in the cemetery when he came to save me and Marisa,” I breathe with the first rays of hope.  Then I remember he’s gone to ground… “Which means he’s not here to protect us,” I murmur sadly.

7d966-civil2bwar2bhouse

     And that’s when the nightmare really begins.

     It’s almost as if the blight heard my words, because suddenly the darkness spreads like a wildfire.  It crashes past whatever was holding it back from my godfather’s estate, sweeping over it cause plants to die and trees to wither.  The manor itself begins to darken and age just before collapsing in on itself, while my hometown is swept in shadow and I hear the first screams of terror arise…

     That’s when I finally woke up to find the screams were coming from my own mouth.   Naturally my parents came rushing into my room to find out what had happened, and then spent the next hour comforting me.  Both kept reassuring me that there had been no new reports of graves being violated or disappearances of people or animals.  Still, I can’t help shaking the feeling that something is coming and I’m certain Nathan will be our only chance of stopping it.

      I can’t tell Marisa about the dream because I know she’s been anxious about her dad.  She and her Mom are waiting for the latest lab results to come back and I don’t want to burden her with my worries.  I’d talk to Otto but he’s out of town.  I could e-mail him, but first I want to go to Nathan’s place and check on Isabella’s grave, where he went to ground with her ghost, to see if there’s any change.  If I don’t see anything, then I’ll contact Otto for sure and ask what I should do next.

       Damn, almost time for school.  I’ll wrap things up here and report back once I’ve been to Nathan’s place this evening.  I pray this is all just my imagination but if it isn’t and there’s no sign of him coming back, I don’t know what we’ll do.

ANNOUNCEMENT – COMING THIS NOVEMBER THE FIRST “VAMPYRE BLOGS ANTHOLOGY” AND OTHER NEWS…

With the completion of Nathan and Otto’s rather lengthy adventure with the Unicorns and Terror Raptors, I thought now might be a good time to let you all know that Helen and I have been hard at work on a brand new Vampyre Blogs book. This volume is set to be released just after this coming Thanksgiving, so you only have to wait another four months to get your hands on this latest installment of the Para-Earth Series.

However… unlike the first book, this one will be an anthology instead of a novel. We will be taking select entries from this nearly four year old blog site to be included in the anthology. Now you may be asking yourself, why put a bunch of stories that are available online into a collection? Well, I’d been getting some e-mails and messages on Facebook, that newcomers to the site telling us that they loved Nathan and company, but found scrolling through so many pages to get to the earlier stories was a bit tedious to say the least.

Upon repeatedly hearing this, Helen and I went over the site and found that had created almost fifty different stories. And while some of them were short, others were so long that they could have anywhere from two to six separate entries to tell entire tale.

While going over some of the earlier and more recent entries, I also began to notice some glaring problems that had been overlooked when they were originally published. This was the direct result of the fact that all of the stories in this blog were basically 1st drafts. Meaning of course they were not fully edited so the ‘occasional’ (massive understatement) misspelling or less-then-perfect punctuations appear in a number of them.

However I can tell you now that all the stories going into the anthology will be getting edited and have a few tweeks made to them for better clarity of reading. Also, the stories will be put in a chronological order. This means they will appear in the anthology by according to when the character telling the tale originally wrote/experienced the adventure. Furthermore, some adjustments being made to some of the stories to create a more smooth timeline for who met who when.

The purpose of doing these ‘adjustments’ is so that the readers can have a better idea of how each of these life events shaped the characters’ personalities before they appear in “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”.

And as they say on television…

 

Both Helen and I agreed right off the bat that any anthology we created needed to have new never-before seen tales in it. In this case, out of the 23-24 stories we currently have lined up for the anthology, six to seven (about a third) of the stories are completely NEW and will not be appearing on this site. Several of these new tales involve Nathan’s ‘long-time’ Otto, aka “The Professor”, who made his debut in “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”. Both his introduction in the novel and his comment, “Apparently, I am am made of NOPE…” have caught the imagination of our readers who have been clamoring for more details on this strange man who Nathan looks up to as a mentor, as well as friend.

Also, since Helen and I are both artists, we are going to try and add some original pen and ink artwork to a number of the stories. We will also be placing either an Intro or an Afterthought to each tale explaining either how the story came to be.

We are also planning more anthologies for the future, not only for the Vampyre Blogs, but also the rest of the characters appearing in Para-Earth Series such as: Alex Hill, Veronica Ross (who along with her boss Roy Petersen – appear in two of the tales in this anthology) and their friends…

Our goal is to release “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day at a Time” on Black Friday or Cyber Monday at the latest, so add it to your holiday wish list, or think about someone you know who’d love a good read on those cold winter nights.

Finally, we are also exploring another avenue with the Para-Earths namely… AUDIOBOOKS!  We’ve had a number of people asking us if and when we’d make the books available in that form.  So currently we are looking into that area and will be providing updates soon.  With we might even have a couple of short stories in audio form for free, to be released just in time for the holidays so we can get some feedback from all of you.

With all that said you can see we have a lot of plans for both The Vampyre Blogs and the rest of the Para-Earth Series in the works.  But have no fears, new stories will still be appearing here as well.  So stay with us and please help spread the word about Nathan, his friends, and the rest of the Para-Earth Series.  The fun has just begun…

Amazon US:

https://www.amazon.com/Allan-Krummenacker/e/B00B1W8TEU/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1501360496&sr=8-1

Amazon.UK:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Allan-Krummenacker/e/B00B1W8TEU/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Barnes and Noble:

 https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/allan+krummenacker?_requestid=724422

Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/byseries/1383

Nathan’s Private E-Journal – February 16, 2014 “My Odd Valentine’s Day Adventure” Part – Conclusion

terrorBirdsNotice

         At the sight of the Terror Raptor’s return, with reinforcements, mom got right to her feet and took a protective stance over her foal.  The movement caught Don’s eye and his trigger finger began to tighten until he saw it was her and not me.  “Tell her to stay still!” he shouted, keeping the business end of his gun pointed at me.

       Obviously, he had figured out that I had some influence over my charges.  At that same moment, my ‘moles’ broke ground.  Immediately, I had several of them leap up inside the legs of his thick snow pants.  I was mindful to have them cling to the inside of the fabric instead of his leg, to avoid startling him into accidentally firing.

      Meanwhile, I gestured for Momma to calm down, while keeping an eye on our two sets of ‘friends’.  The raptors were silently closing the distance between us.  It was amazing how such huge creatures could move so stealthily.

        However, Eric must’ve sensed something was wrong because he turned and froze for a second.  Then he quietly backed up towards his brother muttering, “Donnie… Don… oh Don…”

         Immediately I thought of Abbott and Costello Meets Frankenstein, only this was real life and clearly lacked the true comedic timing of those great men.  Still, it was pretty funny, in an unnerving kind of way.

       “What?” snarled his brother, refusing to tear his eyes away from us for even a second, “I’m trying to keep these three…”

       Eric was right next to him, but too terrified to speak.  Instead he grabbed his brother’s shoulder and spun him around to face the approaching danger.

       Immediately, I had my ‘moles’ sink their teeth into both brothers’ legs.  Within the space between seconds I saw into both their minds and tried to wipe all thoughts and memories of having seen the two unicorns from their memories. Now they should only remember my original lie of meeting a Norwegian farmer who had been looking for a lost pregnant horse and that we were under attack from wolves and they had the only weapons.

       Unfortunately, wolves are a lot lower to the ground than our opponents, which meant my two mind-slaves they aimed their guns a lot lower than I needed them to be when they opened fire.

       Their first volley wound up hitting the snow at the birds’ feet, which was effective enough to alarm them into scattering in a wide loop around and past us.  Eventually they regrouped some fifty yards away at the edge of the woods.  Eyeing us warily, the largest of the three glanced at his compatriots and then in unison they let loose with a threatening cry.  It was the same cry that had thrown me before, only this time it was in triple stereo.

       Luckily, I had seen what was coming and managed to close my ears up completely, but my charges, and our ‘protectors’, were not so fortunate.  All of them began to struggle just to keep their balance, while our opponents seized their chance.  The sound also broke my hold on the brothers’ minds and once more they could see things as they were.  But instead of raising their guns, the pair dropped their weapons and dove for cover behind a nearby fallen tree.  This left mom, foal and me as the only targets for the birds who ceased their vocal assault and began racing straight towards us at an alarming speed.

        Immediately I stopped protecting my ears, while my mind raced for to figure out the best way to protect everyone, when I realized the sound of the birds approach sounded more like hoofbeats.  Which of course made no sense whatsoever.

        Just then I noticed the mare tossing her head as she glanced towards the spot where the portal to her world stood.  From the oddly bright patch burst forth a long, stripped… branch hovering in the air?  As I stood there staring, the branch seemed to stretch to a good feet length and was still growing when a horn, attached to a night-black unicorn’s head emerged through opening, followed by the animal’s body.

       As magnificent and welcome a sight as the beast was, the figure sitting astride its back holding the make-shift lance was even more impressive.  Otto looked taller and more commanding than I’d ever seen him before.  Mind you this was not simply because of the elevation from his being seated on such a magnificent animal, but his posture was erect, and his face was stern and determined in a way I’ve rarely seen.

       As he caught sight of the Terror Raptors, my old friend cried out, “For God and Charlemagne!” Then bending forward, he wrapped his left arm around the unicorn and braced the huge branch he was holding as a weapon.   For a second I had to wonder to myself how many times he had uttered that particular battle cry.  To this day I have no idea how much older Otto is than me, and he’s always telling me, “I’ve given you enough hints over the decades, you should’ve figured it by now.  Don’t you like puzzles?”

       Meanwhile, to my surprise, a second unicorn appeared through the unseen entry.  This one was followed by yet another.  I quickly realized that Otto had not only shown up in the nick of time, but that he was bringing a small cavalry with him.

Now all of this took place within seconds, with a fourth unicorn arriving just as Otto and his steed leapt over me and my two charges.

       The Terror Raptors swiveled aside upon seeing the approaching threat, but two of them collided with each other slowing their evasion tactics, long enough for my friend’s make-shift lance to catch one of them in the side of the neck.  The bird squawked and stumbled from the blow, while crashing into its companion yet again and nearly tripping him up.  Alas, only one of them went down while the other struggled to stay upright, but at least it veered away from momma, baby and me.  Which was wise, since the fourth unicorn took up a protective stance in front of the three of us.  He too was a formidable beast, who pawed the ground in a very protective manner.

       This left only the last of the trio who was now confronted by at least two of the unicorns Otto had brought with him.  Both were impressive specimens, powerful, determined, and fearsome all at the same time. The pair shot past me as they raced to intercept the last of the raptors who had not been involved in the collision.  This one, the largest of the three, had taken advantage of Otto’s breaking up their original charge to try and outflank us.  Only now he found himself facing the formidable unicorn team who were galloping at him with horns lowered.

unicorn-head-silhouette-free-clipart-images

        Seeing the danger the Terror Raptor changed course once more and veered to the left allowing it to pass through the opening through which it had entered.  He was followed moments later by his one of his compatriots who was desperately trying to outrun Otto’s lance.

         To my surprise, Otto his steed, and the pair of unicorns, who had come to the aid of me and my charges, halted before the portal instead of passing through.  But no sooner had I started to wonder why they’d ended their pursuit a pair of terrifying cries erupted through the opening, which had no doubt come from the same throats I’d heard earlier.  Only this time, instead of sounding threatening, the sounds were that of terror and pain.

         Once again my sharp ears caught the sound of snorting and stomping coming from a large group of enraged equines.  Obviously, Otto had kept more unicorns in reserve on the other side of the portal.

        Before my imagination could form an image of what was probably happening, a similar scene began to unfold much closer to me.  The Terror Raptor that had fallen from the collision struggled to its feet and tried to make a sneak attack from behind on the black steed my friend was still astride.  But before I could cry out a warning, the great stallion reared and then planted both front hooves on the ground, while unleashing a mighty kick with his hind legs.

        The blow caught the menacing fowl under the chin sending the would-be attacker head over talons several feet away.  Before the raptor could even try to recover, the remaining unicorns were upon him, kicking savagely until the bird ceased to move.

        As I stared in shock, Otto drew up next to me saying, “Nature has its ways. These birds are quite dangerous predators and the unicorns cannot have them be a threat to their families. Homo sapiens would have been no more gentle with a pride of lions attacking a newborn and mother. Their battle plays by their rules. I imagine with time the birds will learn to be more wary of the unicorns and the ones who do will not be hunted.” Here he paused to stroke the mane of the unicorn he had been riding and added with a smile, “They have ways of communicating, even beyond their species.”

        Before I could comment, I watched as the black stallion moved towards mother and foal who greeted him in a manner I could only describe as more than friendly.  Nodding to myself I thought, ‘Yup, he was definitely worth it.’

        Meanwhile, Otto dismounted. “Don’t you think we should give them a moment?” he said.

     Nodding I turned away and then realized there was no sign of the Ding-a-Ling brothers.  In fact, neither one had reappeared from behind the fallen tree I had last seen them diving behind.  There was however some growling accompanied by yelps.

        Otto raised an eyebrow. “Is there something else I should know about here?”

      Unable to resist a smile I answered, “Well, I did have some other visitors show up while you were gone and…”

      At that point Don and Eric popped up from behind the dead tree, screaming loudly and looking more and a little worse for wear.  Their nice thick winter garments were now partly in tatters and covered in all kinds of filth.  Both were screaming their heads off and whirling around like a pair of lunatics.  As they spun Otto and I saw the source of their unusual condition… a very grumpy wolverine had attached itself to Don’s back.  Apparently it had not appreciated their unwelcome intrusion into its den located beneath the fallen tree.

      “Tsk. Evidently they entered without knocking. They must not have seen the ‘No Soliciting’ sign. But perhaps you can calm our mustilidae friend down before one of them does him a mischief?”

wolverine

         “Agreed,” I said and unleashed some of my mist.  Within seconds it reached the wolverine who quickly it released its hold on Don and scurried over to me and Otto.  Then, using my ‘moles’ I put both brothers to sleep, while ‘accidentally’ forgetting to make them lie down first.  Unfortunately, with this latest trauma their minds had recovered somewhat from the altered memories.  I quickly informed Otto of the problem and he took it from there.

        After ordering me to hide our friends and myself behind a wall of fog which I promptly did.  Then he stepped over to the brothers and began slapping each one of them on both cheeks, while yelling at them in Swedish to wake up.

            “Knock it off, man,” said Eric after a few more slaps.

            “Oh, English. You speak English. You fell asleep out here. You are terribly ill. You look like you have snow shock!”

            “Snow shock?”

            “It is like heat stroke… but different. You fall asleep in the cold and your mind plays terrible tricks on you.”

            “You mean that horse wasn’t real?”

            “In this wilderness. No, no horses.”

            “Or the… weird ostrich?” said Donnie.

            “Ostriches in Sweden?” Otto shook his head and tsked. “You have it bad. Here, you must drink this to warm you up!” He pulled out a flask of vodka and poured some into Don’s mouth. “You, too,” he turned his attention to Eric. I could see through the mist, since it was my own creation, and noted how my friend spilled some of the vodka on their clothes, while still getting a few ounces down their throats.  ‘Oh they are going to smell like a distillery,’ I thought with a smile.

            As we watched, Otto then pulled each of the brother’s to their feet saying, “I can get you on a train soon and back into town. It’s a matter of safety, you should see a doctor as soon as you get there.”

         “How do you know all about snow shock, anyway?” asked Don, who seemed marginally smarter than his brother.

            “I am a Fjord Ranger,” Otto bluffed.

            Eric said, “My sister used to drive one of those.”

           I smiled inwardly, knowing that neither that, nor the snow shock story, would hold up once the boys talked to anyone.  But of course Otto didn’t expect it to.  He was simply doing his usual thing of bamboozling people long enough to get them out of the way.

         As he led the two brothers away from the rest of us and back down the hill, I glanced over at the only remaining evidence, of what had truly transpired, namely the carcass of the Terror Raptor.

        The sound of our new wolverine friend snuffling around at my feet gave me an idea.  “I guess you wouldn’t mind having a nice cache of bird meat under the snow, would you, Stripy?” I asked him.

        Since my mists were still inside him, he readily understood my thoughts if not my words, as he became very excited.  A second later he scurried back to the log and within a few seconds reappeared with a female and two white kits.  As Otto later informed me, usually the male does not hang around after mating with several females, but they do visit.  So apparently, the brothers had caught him during a family visit which had really made him annoyed.

        The kits from what I could see had only recently opened their eyes and after a quick look around scurried back into the den while mom and dad headed for the carcass.  By the time Otto returned, I had been permitted to swipe a drumstick from our former foe, for our dinner.  When morning came, there was no sign of the raptor having ever entered our world.  Even a thin layer of snow covered any remaining blood stains on the ground.

       It was another day or two before we took our leave.  For one thing we wanted to make sure no other Terror Raptors appeared, which they did not.  The second reason we stayed was so Otto could explore the other side of the opening a bit more.  I joined him when night fell on the other side and… well that’s a story for another time.

hand white horse

       In the end, we finally said goodbye to our unicorn friends, who it turned out were telepathic as Otto informed me.  This of course was the real reason why Mama came to me for help in the first place.  She’d sensed the kind of person I was and knew I’d do my best to keep her and the little one safe.  She and her mate also picked up on a little wish of mine which they both kindly acquiesced to.              And what was that wish?  A lock of hair from each of their manes, which is how I will make nice with Lisa who is a tremendous Harry Potter fan.  According to the books, unicorn hair makes a wonderful core to a wand.

       “So, am I clever or not?” I asked my audience of one.

       Alas I received no answer, because little Geoffrey who I had been telling this story to had fallen asleep shortly after I had begun my recitation.  But that’s what happens when you tell an eighteen month old a long story.

       Luckily, my tale was not wasted.  As I suspected would happen, Lisa was listening in from the open doorway.  She’d given me the cold shoulder routine the whole evening, but had obviously been attracted to my storytelling, as well as watching what I was doing.   Especially when I held up the two locks of unicorn hair, one white, the other golden.

       In the next instant found myself feeling like Wile E. Coyote in a Roadrunner cartoon.  A black-haired blur shot into the room gave me a peck on the cheek followed by words, “Okay you’re forgiven,” and vanished again leaving me empty-handed and alone with little Geoffrey once more.

     Glancing at the sleeping boy, I tucked a blanket around him and quietly exited the room. But no before allowing a little of my mist to escape from my sleeve so he could have some wondrous dreams about unicorns.

Nathan’s Private E-Journal – February 16, 2014 “My Odd Valentine’s Day Adventure” Part – V

The cry came again, this time closer and more menacing than before.  I cocked my head at the sound.  It did not resemble any mammalian creature’s call I had ever heard.  Yet it did make me think of a cry from large predatory birds.  Only this one sounded much bigger than any of the ones that came to mind.

A moment later, I spotted movement from the portal which Otto had disappeared through earlier.  It was very brief but enough to tell me that my suspicions were correct.  For the briefest instant I saw a very large and sharp beak, bigger than a man’s head pop through and then withdraw.  But what alarmed me more was the fact that the beak had stood a good seven to eight feet from the ground, which meant the owner was exceptionally tall.

Immediately, my mind began racing through the myriad of creatures Otto and I had encountered over the years, as well as the ones who had once roamed this world.  Since the unicorns closely resembled the horses of this reality, my brain thought back to their evolution and what kinds of creatures had sought them as prey.  Immediately one name came to mind, “Terror Birds”.  Carnivorous prehistoric birds that had roamed South and North America long ago before man arrived via the Bering Strait. They were of course extinct here, but in the Para-Earth my equine friend had come from, they had obviously survived.  Which in turn meant that since their prey had developed a horn as a defense, the Terror Birds might have developed some new evolutionary weapons of their own.

It suddenly occurred to me that both mare and foal had remained silent, in spite of the cries.  Whereas as my other companions, Beavis and Butthead, started jabbering and raising their guns.  Immediately I told them to shut up and not move a muscle.  Luckily, they immediately obeyed.  A moment later, the Terror Raptor stepped through the opening.

TB

As I feared the creature had developed some new traits that its counterparts in this world had not.  For one thing, instead of tiny little wings that served no purpose, these monsters had grown their arms somewhat longer, but nothing compared to their ‘fingers’.  Those had extended considerably, much like a regular bird’s, but instead of sprouting feathers these bones had fused and sharpened to elongated talons a good one to two feet in length each.

Now, I knew what had made the scratch marks on the mare.  A part of me suspected the purpose of such claws was to slash a rear leg, severing the muscles or tendon, in an effort to hobble its prey.  They could also be used to block the unicorn’s horn in a face-to-face confrontation.

Unfortunately, my momentary lapse of scientific fascination meant it was too late to alter the brothers’ perception of what they were seeing.

“Jesus Christ, is that what I think it is, bro?” asked Eric.

“A living fossil?” replied his sibling licking his lips with excitement.  “Yeah, and he’s going to look great on the wall.”

“Not if I get him first,” Eric smirked raising his gun.

But before either could aim, the creature turned towards us and let loose another piercing cry which startled both men.  In my case, because my hearing was so sensitive I was forced to one knee while I tried to protect my keen ears.  It was like listening to fingernails on a chalkboard amplified twentyfold.  I literally had to try and shut my ears down to protect them, yet the sound of a rifle firing still reached my brain.

A moment later, the bird’s cry was replaced by a shriek of panic and then silence.  Looking up, I barely caught a glimpse of the Terror Raptor darting back through the portal.  Whether it had been wounded or not, I couldn’t tell.  All that mattered was that it was gone and we were safe.

uh oh

I started to congratulate my companions on their valor when I heard a menacing click followed by the unnerving view of staring at the business end of a rifle.

Before I could ask what was going on, the gun’s owner snarled, “Buddy, I don’t know where you learned that little hypnosis trick, but news flash: we see things for what they really are.”

Immediately I knew exactly what he meant.  The effort of protecting my hearing had caused me to lose my concentration, and now they could clearly see both mother and foal for what they really were.

“A live unicorn and its foal,” Eric was saying, “We’re going to be more famous than Dad, when we bring them home.”

“They’re not yours to take,” I told them firmly and started to get to my feet, only to have his brother shove his weapon to my forehead.

“You are in no position to stop us, Mister,” he told me with a smarmy grin.  “We’re in charge and you’re going to do exactly as we say, or…”

“You’ll kill me?” I asked blandly.

“Only if you do something really stupid,” Don told me, trying to look menacing.

To be honest I still don’t know whether or not they’d have gone that far.  But I could see they were kind of edge.  The appearance of the Terror Raptor had startled them more than they were willing to admit. Especially since their shot had not killed the animal, merely driven it off.  But for how long?  That was the question.

Still I had to plan my next move carefully.

Turning into mist would take but a fraction of a second, but I was now directly in front of mom and foal.  Which meant I went to my mist form, a trigger might be pulled and any shot aimed in my direction would likely hit one of them.  So instead, I went with a different plan of attack.

Down where the legs of my pants ended, well out of the brothers’ line of sight, parts of me were breaking off and burrowing into the ground.   From there, my miniature ‘moles’ began tunneling towards where my captors’ feet stood.  In a little while, they’d climb up into their shoes and put the bite on them.  Once that happened, I’d have full control over them.  Not that I really wanted to do it.  I abhor taking anyone’s free will from them, even temporarily.  But under the circumstances, and with the lives of mom and foal in danger, I was willing to make an exception.

And what were the Brothers Dim up to, while I was doing all this?  They were arguing between themselves about what to do with me.  Eric kept suggesting offering me a cut of the profit, but his brother was more inclined to keep me out of the spotlight entirely.  Apparently, he wanted the glory for finding a pair of live unicorns for just the two of them.

They were still going at it as my ‘moles’ reached their feet and were about to break ground when the Terror Raptor returned.  As you may suspect he had the element of surprise on his side, but not just because he was in a foul mood.  (Did you see what I did there?)

terrorBirdsNotice

No, this time he’d brought a couple of his buddies and they were all staring right at us…

TO BE CONCLUDED NEXT TIME 

Nathan’s Private E-Journal – February 16, 2014 “My Odd Valentine’s Day Adventure” Part- IV

     tromso2

      For those not familiar with foaling or the term “red-bagging”, normally the foal is encased in the amniotic sac which comes out first.   Once this has cleared the womb, there is a second expulsion from the mother which involves the placenta which has been providing the foal with oxygen and nutrition up to this point.  But in this case, both placenta and baby were coming out simultaneously meaning no oxygen was getting to the foal.

       So you can understand why in spite of my anxiety about the approaching hunters, my first concern had to be breaking the sac so the foal could take in his/her first breaths of real air.  As I quickly started making my way back to the scene of the delivery I could tell the baby’s head had already cleared mom’s womb and was moving.  Starving for air, no doubt.  But then I noticed a curious stub-shape emanating from the forehead area of the unseen foal.  A second later it pierced the sac releasing fluids and other unmentionable things.

        I paused to marvel at the realization that the foal was born with the beginnings of what would eventually be a magnificent horn like its mother.  And unlike in some species where horns or coloration was part of attracting a mate, it served an important purpose in birth.  No doubt, red-bagging was common among their kind and the horn had been an evolutionary development to help them survive.

        Yet, in spite of the having pierced the sac the foal was still struggling so I quickly lent a hand and ripped the opening wider until the animal’s nose was clear and taking in air.  From there things moved quickly.  I wound up helping guide the rest of the foal out of mom and helped free it from the rest of the protective membrane.

        After positioning him closer to his mother, I returned my attentions to our unwanted guests only to find they had cleared the deeper snow and could clearly see us.

         “Look, someone’s found her already, Don!” said the one who must’ve been Eric.

     “Yeah, but we have guns and he doesn’t,” the other replied, cocking his gun and quickened his pace.

        Although I knew I could easily shape-shift and take them both down, a confrontation would mean gunfire.  And even a stray shot could hit mom or her newborn.  So instead, I resorted to another of my abilities.  Down by my feet a greenish mist began to cover the ground and make its way toward the pair.

efb6f-green_mist_by_devvyn

         I made the layer thin and close to the ground so as not to alert them to its presence.  As soon as their snowshoed feet touched the edges of the miasma, it quickly worked its way up their pants legs and into their clothing.  By the time they were within twenty feet of me, it snaked into their mouths and noses.

           Now I had them.

        Smiling, I drew upon my years of studying in Tromso, and called out to them in a very convincing Norwegian accent.  “Hullo!  Oh am I glad to see you.  My mare, she has just given birth and I need to get her and her baby back to the stables.”

        The brothers, paused in mid-step eyeing me warily.  They either thought I was drunk or stoned, which is why they hadn’t lowered their guns at this point.

     Finally, the one called Donnie stepped forward saying, “You got a mare that’s just given birth?  Must be pretty special.”

      “Oh, she is,” I nodded eagerly, using the unassuming almost clownish manner that I had seen Otto use on many an occasion to make people think he wasn’t nearly as clever as them.  “At least to me.  I raise her from a baby and now she has given birth to her own.”

       “Really?” Donnie said still approaching, “And here I thought she was special because of her being a unicorn.”

        “Unicorn?” I repeated stupidly.  “What makes you think she is a unicorn?”

      Now he was just five feet in front of me, and began pointing the gun at my head.  “Because I can see the horn sticking out of her head from here!” he snapped impatiently.

        This was the crucial moment and I had to get things just right.  Carefully, a let a smile cross my face.  “The horn sticking…” I began to chuckle. “She get you too, eh?”  Now I doubled up with laughter, slapping my thighs and everything.

      The brothers shared an uneasy glance at one another for a moment.  Then Donnie told his brother to check on the animal, while keeping me under guard.

      As I continued my enjoyment of a good joke, my mind was working furiously to distort Eric’s perception of what he saw.  It was a crucial moment.  If his mind proved more resistant than I’d hoped, then I’d have to take more drastic measures.  One of my hands was already beginning to take the shape of a vicious dog head, when I heard…

        “What the… Oh my God! That is so funny!”

        This was followed by laughter and the sound of Eric joining us. “That’s not a unicorn, Donnie!  It’s a horse with a big icicle caught in the hair covering her forehead.”

       “WHAT?” Donnie exploded and marched past me to see for himself.

      While Eric and I enjoyed a good laugh, I kept my fingers crossed that Donnie was as susceptible to my mist as his brother had been.  After several pregnant moments, he came stomping back towards us looking disgusted.  “I don’t believe it.  We came all this way for a stupid horse!” he groused and turned to his sibling, “This is all your fault, Eric!  You’re the one who insisted unicorns were real!”

     “No, I only mentioned it to Jared and our sister so they’d have an excuse to go skiing out this way.”

       As the accusations flew, I quietly wandered back to my charges.

mom and foal

      Mom was giving her offspring a good cleaning off while he enjoyed his first real meal from her.  She paused briefly to shoot me what I can only describe as a look of gratitude.

      I smiled and was about to tell her it was my pleasure when a menacing howl erupted from somewhere nearby.  I call it a howl, but it was more of a call which had come from no creature known to this reality.  The sound was so chilling, even the newborn paused in his feeding to shoot an anxious look at his mother, who in turned a frightened gaze to me.

      I’m not going to insult myself again by saying it didn’t take a genius to figure out what had made that noise.  I already knew.  Whatever had attacked her earlier had caught her scent through the portal and was coming…

TUNE IN NEXT TIME TO MEET THE PARA-EARTH THREAT AND AN AMAZING RESCUE!

Nathan’s Private E-Journal – February 16, 2014 “My Odd Valentine’s Day Adventure” Part- II

      Anyway, Otto was still shaking his head saying, “Missing lectures again.  How many times have I told you that will cost you on the exam?”

      That startled me.  “There’s going to be an exam?  I thought I was simply here to listen to bunch of experts in their field.  Admittedly, some were more long-winded than others, present company not included,” I added hastily.  “Is there any way I can make up the points?  Maybe, go on a field trip or something?”

      A bright smile appeared on my mentor’s face.  “What a lovely suggestion.  In fact I had recently been hearing reports of strange creatures being spotted in a region just north of here.”

      “Really?  And did that region happen to coincide with any interesting mathematical computations you’d been working on recently?”

      He gave me a disappointed look.  “I’m a professor, I’m always doing some kind of mathematics.  But to answer your question, yes they do.  By the way, how are you with snowshoes?  It’s going to be pretty deep where we’re going.”

       This time it was my turn to smile indulgently at him.  “Snowshoes?  Pffft… who needs those?  I can just do my Legolas impression and move across the top of the snow without breaking it.”

legolas172-1

     Which is true.  I can make myself extremely light at will and can walk across a number of surfaces without breaking the surface.

      Apparently, he’d forgotten this fact, but instead of looking too embarrassed he simply grinned evilly back at me.  I had no idea what was going on in his head, but I just knew my bragging was going to come back to haunt me later.

aurora

      Three days later…

      “What do you see with your elf eyes, Nathan?”

      See, I told you that wisecrack of mine would come back to haunt me.

     Turning I stared down the mountain at him and replied, “A lot of snow, trees, and one wiseass.”

     “You know, Aragorn told me Legolas said the same thing to him,” he smiled innocently.

    I chuckled at that.  Otto is one of those people you can’t stay mad at for very long if ever.  At that moment, my ears picked up a susurration off to my left.  I had gotten used to the sounds in the area over the last two days, which was why this whispering rustle caught my attention I slowly turned, scanning the terrain very carefully until my eyes detected one area among the trees where the light was much stronger than it should be, considering the sky above us was dark.

    Pointing in the direction of the spot, I called down to my mentor, “It’s about two hundred yards to your left, and twenty yards up the hill.”

     Nodding he started moving towards the spot I indicated with great speed, which was quite an accomplishment for anyone wearing snowshoes.  But Otto is far more athletic than his appearance belies.  At first glance one might think he’s in his later 50’s, short, and stocky.  But he can move as silently as a cat, and as fast as a leopard when he wants to.

      Even with my ability to run across the snow he beat me to the spot by a few seconds.  Now the thing with Para-Earth portals is that in order to spot them you have to be at just the right angle.  Otherwise, you could walk right past them and probably do several times a decade.

     As we examined the opening, Otto made careful measurements, which I faithfully recorded for him.  Then he prepared himself to step through.  He always goes first, since out of the two of us I’m more vulnerable.  The one time I didn’t wait, I wound up racing back to our reality with the worst sunburn you never wanted to see.

     I watched anxiously as he disappeared through the opening and waited.  They say the waiting is the hardest part.  Even knowing how durable my friend is, I still get a little nervous.  Luckily, my wait was not a long one.  After a few moments, he reappeared sporting a pair of stylish sunglasses which told me all I needed to know.

      “Let me guess, it’s very sunny over there.”

     “Actually, I discovered that the future is so bright in that reality, I have to wear shades,” he quipped without missing a beat.

     “Sounds too heady for me.  I’ll stay right here and make sure nothing comes through that shouldn’t,” I told him.

     “Good idea,” he nodded and then added, “And this time, please don’t let anything from this reality slip through the opening while you’re at it.”

     Rolling my eyes I protested, “I only let that happen once.  And it was just a bunny.”

     “That’s what that kid said down in Australia, and look what happened there.”

     “True,” I conceded and then added seriously, “Be careful, over there.”

     “You worry too much,” he smiled, “But it is appreciated.”

     I watched him pass through the opening once more and then turned to take in my surroundings. Trees blanketed the area, but were not so thick as to keep any snow from hitting the ground.  A thin layer of white gently covered decades of fallen pine needles.  Glancing up, I could see the snow was much thicker on the branches.

branches

      Between that and the fact that the nights were much longer at this time of year, I had little to fear from any hint of sunlight that might peek through.

     Now my ears picked up the usual sounds of nature, birds, a stream in the distance, and the occasional scurrying of an animal either underground or foraging some ways off.  In short, it was very peaceful.  The perfect place to crash out for a while.

     So I gathered up some fallen branches and moss and made a little nest against a thick tree, so my pants would stay dry and sat down.  Leaning up against the trunk I relaxed and settled in to wait for Otto’s return.  It was all so nice, I couldn’t help letting my eyelids close and drift off for a while.

     And before anyone asks, no, I didn’t wind up sinking into the ground for a dirt nap.  Contrary to what many in my extended family think, I do not always go to ground to sleep.  I’m perfectly capable of sleeping in a bed, on a couch, or a sleeping bag, whatever.  However, sometimes it gets a little lonely so I actually sleep in the ground more often than I actually need to.  While I’m in the soil I feel more attached to the world itself.  I can see and feel the vibrations of nature at work, like the plants drawing their nourishment, the passing of an industrious mole or field mouse making its way through the Earth.  I’ve even had some pass through my liquid-like state on occasion, which was actually rather ticklish, believe it or not.

     Anyway, this time I stayed above ground.  The cool fresh air lent itself to some very pleasant dreams.  Because I never know who might be reading this entry (i. e. YOU Lisa), I won’t go into details.  However, I will say I was enjoying the company of an enchanting young person when a weight settle in my lap.  Immediately, I recognized this form had warmth which roused me from my slumber.

     Having grown up in the 1850’s when horses were our main means of transportation, I can safely say I’m quite familiar with their general physique and shape.  I’d spent many hours among those my parents kept for pulling our carriages, as well as for personal riding.  And more than once I’d had one of my more favored mares place her head in my lap while I was sitting on the fence of their enclosure.  So even without opening my eyes, I knew my visitor was of the equine persuasion.  A gentle horsey snort confirmed my suspicions.

     At this point I was still not fully awake, but it did occur to me that this encounter out in the wild was rather odd.  Not that I minded.  Animals in general seem to be attracted to me, perhaps it’s the way I smell that puts them at ease.  In any case,  I started stroking the side of its face to reassure the animal that I did not mind the intrusion.  Still, I couldn’t help wondering what was a horse doing out here in the woods?  Just I moved my hand moved up to the animal’s long face and encountered an odd bony protuberance.

     Immediately my eyes snapped open and I stared down at my visitor and saw a very long white horn sticking out of the animal’s forehead.  It was a unicorn.  A real live unicorn, and it was resting its head in my lap.

unicorn

TO BE CONTINUED…

Nathan’s Private E-Journal – February 16, 2014 “My Odd Valentine’s Day Adventure” Part- I

Perhaps ‘Odd’ isn’t the right word for this entry, ‘Most Unique’ would probably be a better phrase to describe what happened this year.  Things certainly didn’t go as I’d planned, but at least Lisa is speaking to me again.  She’s given me the cold shoulder more than once over the years when I’ve broken one of my promises.  Heck who am I kidding, she doesn’t give you a simple cold shoulder.  That girl can give you a look so cold it would make the iceberg that sank the Titanic turn green with envy.

In fact we were visiting a zoo once when she shot me one of those looks.  We were standing next to the penguin exhibit, and I swear every bird in the enclosure closed ranks to keep warm like they do during an arctic storm.  Heck, I even tried joining them but they kicked me out as if to say, “Forget it, Pal!  You brought this on yourself and we’re suffering for it, now go take your medicine.”

Needless to say I made nice with Lisa as quickly as possible, while preventing a new global ice age in the process.

So what does all this have to do with Valentine’s Day?  Simple, I promised to spend it with her and… I didn’t make it.

 

 In my defense I had a perfectly good reason for being two days late.  You see it all started about a week ago…

I was attending a symposium that was taking place in Tromso, Norway, where one of my old Alma Maters is located.  I had attended the University of Tromso – Arctic University about seven years ago, thanks to Otto.  He had told me about their Master’s Program in Molecular Environmental Biology and thought it might help me gain some new insights to the symbiotic life form which shares and prolongs my existence.

He also pointed out that the timing of the classes coincided nicely with the seasonal Polar Nights in Norway, which meant I wouldn’t have to compete with the sun very much.  This suited me just fine of course, so of course I quickly enrolled.

Looking back I can easily say I enjoyed my time there.  Not only were there some wonderful concerts, but also the location of Tromso offered some of the most spectacular views of the Northern Lights.

Anyway, after the third day of the symposium, I was ready to move on.  I’d already listened to the speakers I was most interested in hearing from and didn’t feel like hanging around the campus.  So I made my way into the main city to explore the architecture and other sights Tromso had to offer.  I had just made my way down by the water and was enjoying looking up at the Northern Lights when I heard a familiar jovial voice saying, “Ah, here you are.  I see you decided to play hooky instead of attending my presentation.”

Turning I saw Otto walking up to me.  He was shaking his head and making tsk-tsk noises.  I could tell already by his manner that he had something on his mind, and it didn’t take a genius to figure out what it was.  Cleary he had learned of another possible Para-Earth incursion and he wanted me to come along to help make sure nothing came through that shouldn’t and vice-versa.

And looking back at that last sentence I realize now that I just zinged myself but good.  In my defense, our latest adventure has left me a little giddy but once you hear what happened you’ll understand.

TO BE CONTINUED…