The Gift: A Science Fiction Short Story

The woman sat at the metal table, navigating the thick wooden puzzle pieces on the table in front of her delicately. She completely ignored the man sitting across the table from her, who was staring at her, large white eyebrows furrowed, tapping his pen in an annoying, uneven beat. tap, taptap, tappity tap, tap, tap. His decorated army uniform was in pristine condition, ironed and starched to the point where it almost looked unnatural. It was decorated with medals and stripes and buttons that jingled whenever he moved in the slightest.

So this is what they look like. He thought as he stared the woman down. She was small, and young, and significantly…normal. She wore flip flops, a bright colored tank top and white and black striped shorts. It was usual dress for summer in New Mexico, but still, he had expected…something else. Older. Scarier. Louder. Something…well, more.

“What, were you expecting some old woman with big Texas hair telling you that they could commune with your dead relative, Major Harrington? Or perhaps someone dressed in all black out of the Matrix who could run up walls and shoot lasers from their eyeballs?”

The man was taken aback as she responded to his unspoken query. 

“Or perhaps you would you like me to read your palm, and tell you when you’ll die?” With the follow up question she lifted her eyes from her puzzle, for the first time making eye contact with him. Her eyes were a piercing grey color, unlike anything he had ever seen before, and it made him inhale sharply.

The woman laughed a bit at the officer’s reaction, then rolled her eyes and turned her attention back to the puzzle in front of her. There was silence between them again, as the officer continued to tap his pen on the table, finally speaking. “You know why you are here, correct?”

“Is this a joke, Major?” She responded, leaning back in her chair, silver stare piercing through him, the gaze giving the elder man an actual physical chill. “Of course I know. I saw the parade of other quote unquote psychics in the foyer on my way in here. Have fun sorting through those soothsayers and wackadoodles.”

The man cleared his throat. “Right. Well, your supposed abilities have come to the attention of the CIA. We wanted to speak to you about a possible opportunity.”

The woman rolled her eyes again, for the umpteenth time in the conversation. “My abilities? I’m a simple magician who can guess what’s inside envelopes and what people have in their pockets. Besides, I was under the assumption that the army had discontinued all of their projects in regards to the supernatural fifty years ago. You know, something about it being all bullshit, psychic power isn’t real, burn the witch sort of thing. So what, is the military finally opening its mind to other things?”

“That’s classified at this time. And you came to our attention when you pinpointed two of our top secret army bases and the Colonel’s summer cabin on a map live on your YouTube channel last autumn, if you recall your brief imprisonment with us.”

She barked out a short laugh. “Right, I forgot about that. Good times. You know that the Russians, Koreans, Australian and the Chinese have been using special mind divisions in their army for at least the last two decades. Do you want to know how many times it has stopped the world from ending? Six. Literally.”

“Uh huh, so you’re still claiming to be an actual psychic then, not some sort of hacker or espionage agent. You have actual real mind powers. But the rest of these people out there are just hogwash.”

“I have remote viewing capabilites. I can see things happening elsewhere.” She said, twisting the puzzle pieces again. “I don’t have psychokinesis. I can’t move things with my mind. And I can’t view the future. Those are other abilities. It’s like how some people can paint and some people can sketch. They’re both art but they’re not necessarily interchangeable. And as for these other supposed physics as you call them, that’s their business. But the communing with the dead has nothing to do with psychic abilities so that is actual bullshit.”

Well, I’ll believe it when I see it. This isn’t my project I’m just the…” He sighed in annoyance again, “…handler.”

“You government people.” The woman said, scooting her chair out and pushing up from the metal table, “You can put a man on the moon and cure the most deadly medical conditions. But when it comes to things you don’t understand you suddenly revert to the Orthodox church of the 1500’s where everything is wichcraft. It’s not like mind powers is magic or dark arts. It’s quantum physics. Read a book.”

“If it’s science, it should be able to be replicated. That’s the scientific method.” 

The woman shrugged. “Sure. But you have to have the base materials to work with in the beginning. Some people do. Others don’t.”

“But where does it come from initially. It’s not a gene. It’s not like musical talent or red hair or something passed down or learned or things that run in families.”

“Oh, of course.” The woman sighed. “Where did it come from. It doesn’t make sense, so of course, it’s probably the dark arts, or magic, or aliens. That’s what you’re wanting to hear, isn’t it? Because something that makes NO sense is the thing that makes the most sense?”

The man put his hand to his forehead. “I hate my job.” He stood up, “The offer to assist with the opportunity with the CIA is retracted. You’re dismissed.” He scribbled her name off his list angrily.

The woman turned the key in her apartment door, the narrow door swinging open with a creak. The apartment was hot, but she didn’t really mind. She mindlessly moved around, opening the windows to let a breeze in.

 She made her way into the bedroom, stopping to gaze into the long freestanding full length mirror. She stared at herself intently, examining her sweaty hair and gazing at her large, piercing silver eyes as she smiled, then slowly blinked. When she opened her eyes again, standing behind her was a large alien grey- the same color grey as her haunting stormy eyes. He was tall, with large black eyes and long arms and legs, exactly as she remembered him being. When she whipped around to see him in person, he was gone.

It was true. The superior mind powers had come from the alien greys. Just like so many other things. Flight capability. Plasma weapons. Stealth planes. Dimension doors. Hidden technology tested in secret by classified government projects. Everyone knew, secretly. Everyone has that feeling, itching somewhere in the corner of their mind. That there is something else out there, somewhere.

Truth be told, she wasn’t sure if she would ever see the greys again. But she knew they were there. Always there, all around her. Some came for experimenting. Some came to help. But she had been one of the lucky ones to receive their gift.

#scifi #shortstories #fiction

Raise Your Hand If You Believe In Aliens

You want to know what I don’t want to talk about right now? Current events. Seriously. No more. No more news. No more media. No more information overload, hashtags, and arguments.

You know what I do want to talk about?

Raise your hand if you believe in aliens. But, like, discreetly, so your neighbor can’t judge you, if you’re worried about that.

UFO, extraterrestrial, and alien grey stories are some of my favorite stories out there, because it seems like the more you look for them, the more you find. So many people have reported extraterrestrial encounters, and they have been happening for hundreds of years. Do I believe in ET’s? Eh… Maybe. I’ve never seen one…thankfully. If I did see an alien grey I’d probably point, yell “Aha! I knew it! You are real!” Then pass out dead in fright.

What I do believe in is people and their stories.

My favorite podcast currently is called Monsters Among Us, hosted by Derek Hayes. It reminds me of an old radio show called Coast to Coast AM, which I remember my mom listening to when I was very young. On both Coast to Coast and Monsters Among Us, individuals call in and report their personal paranormal encounters with ghosts, ghouls, aliens, and mysterious creatures.

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and am very convinced I saw three Sasquatch as a child, so I tend to have an open mind to people’s stories. Is the human brain easily tricked by light, sound, and other things? Yes. But people’s encounters are still fun to listen to and peruse with a “what if, could it be?” mindset. Even if they can be debunked, the experience is still true to the individual who encountered it. Besides, isn’t it more fun to live in a world where some things are still mysterious and yet undiscovered?

What do you think? Do you believe in aliens, creatures, and other monsters? Have you ever seen anything “unbelievable?”

#monsters #creatures #aliens

The Dark Alchemist: A Fantasy Short Story

I’ve been playing a lot of video games lately so I thought I’d throw out this fantasy dabble. I always seem to put way too much thought into my character’s mindset when I’m playing the games so I thought I would share it.

It’s so quiet. The small fire in front of me is slowly fading to embers, the dying light casting large, spooky shadows on the slick cave walls. The only audible sound is a continuous plink, plink dripping noise somewhere far off in the unexplored cavern. This part of the cave is free of monsters, I was certain to check thoroughly before I made camp for the night. Beyond where the firelight reaches and through the twisting and turning of the cavernous reaches of the unlit cave, though, I have no idea.

I carefully sit down, resting my weary back against the wall. The cave is somehow a greenish, yellow color- maybe from some sort of unusual stone, or a type of cave dwelling bug or plant. I don’t know. This area is foreign to me, with strange places and undiscovered monsters, and unique individuals with different customs and languages. The stench is rancid in this place in particular, but that is most likely attributed to the hundreds of dead creatures strewn around the space, and could be partly myself, now as well. My long leather jacket, knee boots and sturdy chain pants are spattered in two shades of green blood, and my left elbow-length glove is soaked in blood and a putrid slime mix. The tip of a small black arrowhead is embedded right in the front of my heavy metal helm, the enchanted helmet, albeit a little odd looking, once again saved me from a deadly strike.

I sigh, pulling my enormous, legendary battle hammer into my lap. It’s huge, nearly six feet long, with a hammer head as long and thick as my entire torso. It’s heavy and unbecoming, especially for a mage. If the temple embermages that worked so hard to bless me with my magical skills saw me now, wielding a greathammer like a common rogue, they would be sorely disappointed. The enchanted greathammer was a gift from a forgotten king, and no matter how hard I try I can’t give it up. It is a beautiful gold color, and enchanted with lightning abilities, the entire hammer buzzing and crackling like it was blessed by the God Thor himself. It is something truly unique, and as I have carried it halfway across the world now, it would be a shame to give it up to carry a simple wand like a normal embermage, even though it would be the respectable thing.

I eye the dying fire, considering whether I should let it go out, or let it burn a little longer. Once decided, I press my hands together, fingers making a pointed motion, with my two forefingers curling in. Sparks shoot out my pointed fingers and shower the embers, a gigantic pillar of flame spiraling up from the small fire with enthusiasm, hitting the ceiling and billowing off to the sides before calming, the fire brighter and alit again.

There is silence again, nothing but the plink, plink in the chasm to be heard, and the crackling of the newly re-kindled fire. I never really stop to think about what it is like, being alone. I had left my small village with companions- but they were all gone now. One stopped in a village and stayed there as a forgemaster. A second heard of a quest that he could not pass up, and he was not seen again. The third companion died in a cave much like this. But that was long ago, much time has passed since then, and the memory has just turned into a cold scar of regret. Now the only companion I have is Lovecraft, my hawk. He rests peacefully on my shoulder for now, every so often lifting his foot to chew at his talon absentmindedly.

The cave doesn’t have us on edge, not really. Not the monsters, not the journey, not the dark. But the end destination makes us both anxious.

We were recruited about a year ago at a simple desert village. We were charged with hunting the worst type of monster: a human. A human like myself- a mage. A mage, and worse, someone I had known my whole life. My friend. They now called him ‘The Dark Alchemist.’

The Dark One. The Destroyer. The one who was trying to tear a hole in the fabric of the universe. Who was trying to kill everything. My friend. The one who had taught me magic. 

I pressed all five of my fingers together and held them up, looking at the blue sphere forming in the air above my fingers. I held it, charging it for just a bit, before letting go, shooting it up in the air. The sphere hit the roof of the cave and harmless, light snow puttered down, melting as it hit my overcoat, the fire, Lovecraft’s beak and feathers, and the bloodied floor of the cave. 

The Dark Alchemist.

Or as I knew him, just Antony. 

The last time I had seen him, he was next to me on a bar stool, so far from here, on our island city of Etheria. He banged his wooden mug on the counter, sloshing ale all over the bar, his crystal blue eyes squeezed shut in laughter. I was relaying a story of one of our earlier adventures to the barkeep, a tale in which all my hair got singed off by a fire drake when I attempted to steal the legendary beast’s treasure. Antony saved the day by freezing the dragon and helping a (bald) me escape with the secret treasure we had entered the forbidden tower for.

Honest to God Hyacinth. You’re one of the best embermages I’ve ever met. But I swear to shit you’ll be the death of me.

I squeezed my greathammer around the end, mindlessly scratching some dried guts off of the handle. I had laughed then, too, and followed up with some sort of hilarious zinger that got him laughing again. But I wasn’t laughing now. No one was.

Antony. My friend. The Dark Alchemist.

What made you this way…what drove you to this madness, and why is it me that has to cross swords with you at the end of it all?

I stared into the darkness, expected someone, somewhere, some God to give me a merciful and just, reasonable answer to it all. But there was nothing. No one. No answer at all.

Plink. Plink. Plink.

#fantasy #games #dnd

Quarantine Boredom and Priceless Antiques

I’ve been working and sheltering at home for the past month and a half. Although I spend most of my day working and gazing languidly out the window, I have also taken up the very dangerous habit of online shopping.

Ok so, I was an online shopper before all this. “Amazon those water shoes to be here before the kayaking trip on Sunday,” you know, the usual. But I’ve taken the deep dive into the world of Etsy, and well, it’s something else entirely.

I collect books. Or rather, I collect words. I love old books, especially books that are inscribed or dedicated to a certain someone. I have a book of poems from 1850 that has written in neat penmanship in the front an inscription: to the author’s wife, from her husband with love.

Something about inscribed books, whether it be an old schoolbook with cursive writing practice, or a simple, from your son, with admiration, anything old or usual sparks my interest. It’s someone’s memory. Old books make me wonder, what kind of life has this old, beat-up hardback had? Was it sitting on a shelf in a library for many decades, or was it purchased as a gift and passed from father to son? Was it one of those books that you let each of your friends borrow, or was it a religious piece that laid on the bedside stand for prayers and devotions each night? Every book has a story. Every word has spoken to countless individuals over the years before ending up between my hands.

Anyway. This wasn’t even supposed to be about books. I’m off on a tangent again. This was supposed to be about the letters.

I was searching on Etsy for books- and I found someone selling vintage letters. Antique, heartfelt letters, from a Navy soldier, Charlie, to his fiancee, Charlotte, during the war in 1943. It piqued my interest, so I put in an order. When they arrived, I opened the small box and sifted through the handful of letters, either written in neat penmanship or typed on a typewriter.

They were typical letters, in some parts, like the way a man would speak to his beloved. He asked her if they had gotten the attic stairs installed correctly, and was happy that Charlotte’s mother wouldn’t have to go up the stepladder to get into the attic anymore, since that was dangerous. He also spoke about how his holiday was the following day, and he was going to spend it in the most exciting way, doing laundry! Many things he did reminded him of being with her, like seeing a movie would be much better if it was with her rather than with the other soldiers. He spoke in every letter about how he was looking forward to seeing her and starting their lives together, and having their wedding as soon as possible.

As I looked over the heartfelt and carefully written letters I wondered who these individuals were, what their lives were like after the war, their families, and if they got their happily ever after.

Most of all, I wondered how these precious love letters from so many years ago came to be in my possession. I live nowhere near where Charlie or Charlotte resided, nor do I have any family ties to them. Why weren’t these precious letters kept as family heirlooms forever?

I’m a minimalist- yet I find it strange the things that I cling onto. Love letters that belonged to no one of consequence I find priceless.

Perhaps it is because I have a fiance, a love that is similar to Charlie in many ways. The outpouring of love in Charlie’s letters reminds me of the things in my life that I should hold tightly to and treasure. I pray that one day, I will have a precious family to pass them onto.

#thoughts #antiques #vintage #writing

My Honest Review of the Noom Diet App

Noom. It’s all the rage when it comes to diet these days. There are pop-ups on Facebook, success stories on Instagram, and all the office gals talk about at the water cooler. Oh you gained weight…have you tried that app Noom?

I’ve struggled with my weight for the last few years. I’m barely over 5′ tall, so I can’t carry much weight, it shows! I was at a healthy weight for most of my life, but steadily gained weight after my divorce, and now am sitting at nearly 50 pounds overweight. The paleo diet worked wonders for me in the past, but in a go-go-go lifestyle, fast food and cheap dinners are easier to grab than making healthy choices at home. I did try keto, and to me it was strange and uncomfortable.

I saw the ad for Noom on Facebook. It was like seeing one of those advertisements for those diet patches, like something magical. Eat whatever I want and lose weight? A diet coach that will help especially me? It sounded perfect- exactly what I needed. I was pretty excited about it, and my heart was into it!

Noom’s biggest selling point is its personalized diet coaches that are there to help you out with nutrition and give you a hand when you are in a slump. As I got into the app myself, I realized my “diet coach” was nearly impossible to get ahold of, and her questions and answers always seemed canned to the point that I was unsure if she was a human or a bot. This was not what was marketed, as a “personalized” coach to help out through the weight loss journey and was super disappointing.

The disappointment continued. Every day when I opened the Noom app, there would be new tasks to complete. They were generally long passages to read with quizzes at the end. At first they were fun and informative, but they did become tedious and downright annoying. There was also a group that I was “highly encouraged” to participate in. This all came together like homework for the app.

The most beneficial part of the app was the food tracker, which gave me the ability to record food eaten and count calories. The weight loss graph was also useful, in which I could record my weight each day and see a steady decline. Ironically, these are both things available in a multiple free applications.

I know, this is a lot of negativity, so I will follow up with this: people lose weight differently. Some individuals, especially if this is the beginning of their weight loss journey, may need extra accountability and the extra chatter of a group discussion may be helpful to them. I may have been unlucky and have gotten an inattentive, uninvolved counselor, and some Noomer’s may have had a completely different experience with their diet coach. My life is always on the go, however if individuals have time to sit down and read each module and take the quiz, I am sure the information is insightful.

However, for this app, I believe there is mostly “noise,” (coaches, groups, quizzes), however there is not enough actual, unique material to be any more beneficial than any other diet app.

I did lose 10 pounds with Noom, however this was only using the food tracker and the weight loss graph. If these are the only two items which are going to be helpful, there are absolutely free and much more easier apps to navigate for the same results, that make you feel more independent and successful with less background chatter.

Did you have a Noom experience, or a diet app journey? Let’s hear it!

#review #diet #noom #health

The End Of Part One

I saw the Lamb break open the first of the seven locks. I heard one of the four living beings cry out like the sound of thunder, “Come and see!”

Revelation 6:1 – The Holy Bible

I’ve been having dreams about the end of the world recently. It’s been nursing a bit of an obsession in the Bible’s book of Revelation.

I have a theology degree. I studied it in depth. Still I feel like I have no understanding of it at all.

Artist’s rendering of the four horsemen

The four living creatures. The four horsemen. The seven seals. The seven bowls. The beast. Appolyon, keeper of the abyss. I wish I understood. For some reason, it’s literally been keeping me up at night lately. If you look up pictures of the aforementioned things online, you find terrifying things. Below is an artist’s rendering of Abbadon (or Appolyon, in Greek) the destroyer, mentioned in Revelation 9:11, simply as being the angel king over the bottomless pit.

Artist’s rendering of Abbadon the destroyer

All the things we draw, paint, write or reason for Revelation are based on the source material that we have- so lots of them look like scary video game characters. But what else do we really have to draw from? What will the creatures actually be- and what does all the prophesy really represent?

Thinking about Revelation just gives me that bit of churning in the gut and feeling of being unsure about the future. But then, I guess we never know the future, do we. It would be exciting to actually, finally be on the forefront at the end of days. After all- Revelation is just the beginning.

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!…Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true…It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End…All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.”

Revelation 21:5-7- The Holy Bible

What about you? Have you read the book of Revelation? Do you ever think about the world ending?

#thebible #christianity #religion #revelation #sermon #thoughts

What’s Your Favorite Wedding Comedy?

Planning a wedding has me in the mood for wedding films. But not gushy romance movies like The Wedding Planner and Runaway Bride, no, hilarious, irreverant comedies that make me snort.

The Wedding Ringer with Kevin Hart has been my favorite so far and has gotten me in the festive wedding mood. What’s your favorite wedding movie? I need some recommendations!

#movies #comedy #television #wedding

Maybe Writer’s Block Isn’t All Bad After All.

Before my divorce a few years ago, I would write. Pages and pages, hundreds of thousands of words. It was easy, it flowed out of my fingertips. I loved writing. It was easy for me, like a form of journaling, without the lamenting and monotony.

All the plots I wrote had very similar themes. They were based around a strong, self assured female character and the adventures she had. She was smart, skilled, and fought through many hard times. She always met a heroic male, who accompany her on her journey, who complimented her and helped her fight the main villain at the end of the book. Together they were triumphant, and lived happily ever after. The heroine was always based on myself, of course. Or rather, the person I wished I could be, in a relationship I wished I could have- living life having adventures and facing challenges with the one I loved.

I’ll save you the drama of explaining my young marriage to you. My husband was a narcissist and very emotionally vacant. After two years of marriage he left me for someone else- which was devastating, but has made me a completely different person. Since that event, I have grown into a strong, self-assured woman, and am able to make hard choices and move forward in life.

Since meeting my now-fiance, I haven’t been able to write plot like I used to. I’ll open my laptop and lay my fingers across the keys, staring at the blank screen. On one hand it’s infuriating, but on the other hand, it’s liberating.

For so many years I wrote stories about an independent woman who knew what she wanted, had her own voice and could do hard things. I wrote about her meeting a wonderful, loving man whom would help her fight against the injustice in the world.

I guess navigating the icy, snowy Santiam pass isn’t precisely the same as a a climax-worthy villain. But maybe I can’t write like I used to because in theory, there’s nothing to say. For me, writing was simply projecting exactly what I needed onto pages where at least someone could listen. Now, my future has aligned with exactly what I have wanted so much, I have nothing to write about.

I guess for now, writer’s block isn’t all bad.

#writing #writersblock #divorce #relationships

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