Those Hot August Spirits

Without spilling names, I had two incidents involving the spirit world and one involving the Holy Spirit. I’ll discuss them in order of occurrence.

While seated in a Virginia City, Nev., bar, I saw a man in what I believed to be a black trench coat on the far side of the saloon. The next thing I know, this man was next to me, leaning his face into mine as if he were trying to intimidate me.

When I looked towards him, he was not there, and then I knew he was a spirit and not corporale. I also realized that it was malevolent.

Three times this entity rushed me. I could feel it press me as if it wanted to fight.

All three times, I told it to leave me alone in the “Name of Jesus Christ.”

Since I would not be intimidated, it scratched the right side of my neck.

The second incident happened at the same saloon a few minutes after my initial run-in with this thing. While talking to one of the bar owners, his tumbler glass moved half an inch across the bar without being touched.

“Did you see?” he asked.

“I sure did,” I answered as I examined the glass to see if it had moisture beneath it.

It was completely dry where the glass sat. Further, it had moved towards the open doorway, the only draft available.

About 10 minutes later, the same thing happened. Only this time, the glass moved farther, and it spun in a counter-clockwise direction.

We decided it was time to find something else to do; he had a bar to run. I needed photos and quotes about the Hot August Night automobile event filling C Street.

Later, after the sun had dipped behind Mt. Davidson, I was seated on an outdoor bench chatting with friends, including a couple I had never met before. He did not talk very much, but she had plenty to say.

“I don’t know why, but I’m supposed to tell you this,” she started, “but don’t quit.”

Stunned, I looked at her and asked, “Quit what?”

“Don’t quit writing,” she returned.

Confession time — due to frustrations throughout July, I had thought of resigning from the paper and permanently archiving my blog. But after what she said to me, I have since reconsidered.

Dog-gone Accident

Standing at my office window, I could do little but watch as the situation moved from bad to worse. By the time I grabbed my first-out bag and made it to the scene in front of my house, it was nearly over.

He had fallen on his back when I rushed from the room. By the time I made the front door, the woman was facedown in the road.

Their little dog was happily running in circles. The big dog was running after the little dog.

All this began when the Rottweiler slipped his collar and leash. He had run back to the couple with the small dog to say ‘hello’ to the dog.

His size belies his gentle nature, and the couple mistook his running towards them as aggression. I know this dog, his name is Rosco and he’s a sweetheart.

The man stepped in front of Rosco and got knocked down for his trouble. The woman then tried to stave off the ‘attacking dog,’ and tripped over her own dog’s leash, falling.

She was bleeding heavily from a finger on her left hand. Stitches needed.

Neither she nor her husband wanted to take the time for me to bandage her up. Instead, they hustled off down the road.

So I went over to help the woman get the collar back on Rosco. She was shaking and crying, mumbling about getting rid of the dog.

“I’ll take him,” I said as she hurried away without a word.

That was two days ago. This morning I saw Rosco’s human again sans the dog, and I had to ask what had become of him.

“Oh, he’s at home,” she smiled. “I was jus’ angry and embarrassed when I said that. I didn’t mean it.”

“Good,” I said.

“And thank you for helping and offering to rehome Rosco,” the woman added. “You’re a good neighbor.”

Why I Like Dogs Better Than Most People

I spent my morning trying to help my wife understand why people do not live up to the promises.

She worked for a married couple for thirty years, managing their business. Back then, she could ask for help with minor home improvement projects and get all the help she needed as one of the business owners was also a contractor by trade.

That was then.

Now, though he promised to come by the house once again, he has failed to show or even call.

My wife cannot understand this. I had to explain the truth to her, “You’re no longer of use to them, so they have written you off.”

I have a lot of experience at being written off.

Science Can Mask-off!

During this past week, as we lived through heavy bouts of thick wildfire smoke in Northern Nevada, I watched people wearing masks choke on the odor. Their masking-up did them no good, physically.

Logic suggests that if they could smell the smoke, they were breathing in and choking on particulates. Now, the average size of a wildfire smoke particulate is about 0.3 microns.

Meanwhile, the larger Coronaviruses are around 0.2 microns, while most are less than 0.05 microns, smaller than the smoke particulate. So, it would appear that wearing a face mask is useless against both smoke particulates and the COVID-19 virus.

Science…

Another Worthless Post

It has been very hard to sit and write today. My mind is elsewhere, unfortunately.

So I am falling back on an old process I used back in the day, writing whatever comes to mind in five minutes. And I don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or punctuation.

I won’t be going that long.

Anyway, I find myself unhappy as we’re returning to wearing masks every place we go. My brain screams, “Fuck that!” while my mouth drones, “Yes, dear.”

Yeah, my wife and I don’t see eye-to-eye on the subject because she has to wear one anyway as she works for the school district. It’s best to go along to get along some days.

Along with the whole face diaper thing, I am struggling with work. Mistakes on my part have me down in the shitter, and I’m angry with myself because of it.

Plus, I don’t feel like I belong anywhere. And while I don’t mind my own company, I wonder why there are so few people I can associate with, either professionally or personally.

I know — boo-hoo and cry me a frigging river.

That’s enough. At least I got something written for a post which ain’t saying much.

Smoke

Independence weekend began with a plume of smoke. A wildfire that the forest service called the Beckwourth Complex.

Soon the Tamarack and the Dixie Fires followed. Each new blaze brought even more smoke into the valley.

Eventually, the haze grew so thick that he could no longer see the homes across the street. Not even his dog was willing to stay outside for any length of time, save to care for its business.

Soon a couple of days grew into a week and then nearly an entire month. The metallic hum began in that final week.

Day and night, it came and went until it never stopped. It was replaced periodically by a crying or a low guttural growl.

Unable to identify the sound, he ventured out onto his front porch to listen. He took a cup of hot coffee and his dog with him.

Together they quietly listened to the hum become a cry, become a growl. Then a new sound issued from somewhere deep within the smoke: a grinding.

The dog stepped back and settled near the front door waiting for its human to open it so they could go indoors. But that never happened.

Instead, the man stepped off the porch and into the black-brown hazy, ignoring the warning whine coming from the dog. Quickly he was enveloped by the stuff and could no longer be seen.

Panicked, the dog barked, howled, and scratched at the door until the man’s wife opened it. The dog darted inside and ran under the dining table for safety.

That was three days ago, and the dog still sits at the door whimpering for the man it will never see again.

Endless

She pulled into the parking spot and sent me inside the store to buy some condoms. I could not believe my luck on this full-moon night.

I looked back at her to make sure she was real.

As I passed through the doorway, I felt a sudden wave of nausea overcome me. Perhaps I was much more excited than I thought.

Quickly, I walked beyond the register, looking up at the signs above each aisle. I recall being a bit surprised by how big the store was.

It looked so tiny from the outside. The more I walked towards the back of the building, the farther it seems to be.

Was it my imagination, or was the building growing larger?

I turned to look back at the doorway.

I couldn’t see it anymore.

A sense of panic rushed through me as I stood still, trying to think what I should do now.

“Hello?” I called.

Nothing.

Frightened, I began jogging towards where the doors should have been. I could not see them, nor could I find the register.

Lost, I turned to my right along an aisle that ran lengthwise of the building. Then I saw it, a door with an adhesive sign across it, reading: “Door armed.”

As I reached out to push it open, a hand grabbed onto my right forearm. I struggled to pull myself free and open the door.

I pushed on the handle with my left hand, and the door swung open.

An alarm blared overhead as I ripped myself from whatever had a hold of me.

Beyond the door frame was darkness, and yet I still stepped out into it. The door slammed behind me, and I discovered I had entered an endless parking lot made of gray asphalt and white stripes.

Sex that night was out of the question. It would take me longer to understand how effed I was in the long run.

Death of the Gardener

Children were born, grew up, and moved away. When they returned to visit, they often exclaimed how the old man had not seemed to age since their long-ago childhoods.

One morning, some early risers, out for a walk, discovered him lying in his front yard. Soon the police arrived, and we watched as they carried him away in a black body bag.

Since he had no wife or known family, it fell to me, as the head of the community’s neighborhood watch, to begin the work of securing his home until the proper authorities could being their work of clearing out the house.

The following day, I decided to take a look in the backyard. I had no idea what I might find.

To my surprise, I discovered a beautiful garden. Well-tended and filled with both flowers and vegetables of all sorts.

I wandered along the narrow rows and marveled at the man’s skill.

It was near the back of the plot where I saw a set of strange green eldritch pods. Each one was larger than the next, with the biggest being the size of a grown man.

I touched it.

The pod jerked as if alive, and I took a couple of steps back from it. Then it disengaged from the stalk it grew from and began twisting, turning, and crawling like a worm.

“What in the…” I started to cry.

But before I could finish my sentence, the thing stopped and turned towards me. I stepped back even further as the greenish pod squirmed in my direction.

Suddenly it began to split open at a seam that I had not seen before, but I did not stay around to see what spilled from the thing. I raced from the yard and to my house across the street.

The following morning I looked out of my living room window only to see the old man, seemingly younger than ever, working in his yard.

About Those Flying Stegosauruses

Yes, I know about the podcast Tanis, and no, I do not know what it is about and nor do I intend to listen to find out. Because of the podcast, I had to double-check whether Where is Tanis? was written by someone else or not.

So far, Jack Parson does appear to be the author.

Now, for the second person in my most recent bit of research: Edgar Rice Burroughs. Aside from being in the U.S. Army, stationed in Arizona, and later owning part of a small mining operation in Idaho, there seems to be no direct connection between him and Parsons.

Nor is there a direct connection to Dr. W. H. Ballou, save for what Ryan Harvey, writes in Edgar Rice Burrough’s Pellucidar Saga: Tarzan at the Earth’s Core:

“The dyor, [is] a Stegosaurus that can glide through the air by flattening its backplates. This isn’t entirely Burroughs’s whacked-out creation: Dr. W. H. Ballou floated the idea in a Utah newspaper article in 1920. Burroughs clipped unusual news stories for ideas, and he probably pulled this from his dinosaur file one day and went with it.”

Pellucidar is a fictional Hollow Earth invented by Burroughs.

So, let’s look once again at Parsons and other people that spent time at his mansion in Pasadena.

Enter sci-fi writer Robert A. Heinlein, who lived at Parsons home for a time. It is Heinlein who connects us to Burroughs.

He did not complete the first draft of The Number of the Beast, as Alan Brown points out in Long-Lost Treasure: The Pursuit of the Pankera vs. The Number of the Beast by Robert A. Heinlein:

“No one knows exactly why Heinlein abandoned the original version of his book, although that version draws heavily on the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs and E. E. “Doc” Smith, and there may have been difficulties in gaining the rights to use those settings.”

A lesser-known science fiction writer Smith lived in Idaho as a child and young man. Following his retirement as a chemical engineer, he split his time between Florida and Seaside, Oregon.

It is Seaside that my Uncle Orville first retired to before he and Aunt Francis moved to Salem. It gets even stranger.

In several interviews, Charles Manson said many of his ideas came from Robert Heinlein’s 1961 novel Stranger In A Strange Land. Mansion even claimed to be a combination of the characters Valentine Michael Smith and Jubal Harshaw.

Jubal means father of all, a role Manson assumed. He also named his son Valentine Michael.

Manson also found influence in Dianetics and something called the Process, founded by Robert and Maryanne DeGrimston in London in 1963 as an offshoot of Scientology.

Rabbit hole my ass…

Nameless

Finn and I were celebrating our final night of summer freedom at the line shack. Earlier in the day, we had helped count and load all the cattle the two of us had gathered over the last two and a half months.

“George,” Finn said, “I’m glad you held back on the good stuff.”

He lifted his cup, half full of whiskey, in salute. He then downed it in a single gulp. I poured him some more.

“Wonder what happened to old Nameless,” I said as I tipped my glass back.

Nameless was a large black bull, well known for his nasty temper. We couldn’t find him anywhere in our searching for the nearly wild cows that we’d driven into our stock pens in the many weeks we’d been working together.

“Probably got kilt by a mountain lion or something,” Fin answered. “After all he was pretty old as I understand it.”

“Yeah,” I replied. “More than likely he is a ghost out roaming around looking for someone to run over or something.”

“Now, don’t you go telling any spook-stories to me,” Finn demanded. “You remember that last one you told me. Nearly had a heart attack when you howled like a dog while I was in the outhouse.”

We laughed as we enjoyed another splash of whiskey.

“Won’t be trying to scare you tonight,” I said. “Not with old Nameless unaccounted for.”

“Stop it, damn you,” Finn shouted. “Not another word about ghosts, spirits or spooks or anything of the sort.”

“Okay,” I answered, “Want another snort of spirit?”

Finn laughed so hard he nearly fell out of his chair. I poured him another couple of ounces.

Once finished with that, he got up and went outside, announcing, “You only rent whiskey.”

I stayed seated, worried that the room might spin too fast for my balance should I stand up.

That’s when I heard a particular sound, heavy breathing, and a solid thump. I got up despite my possible intoxication and went to the cabin door.

Intoxicated or not, I recognized Nameless right away as he stood horns pointed at me. I quickly slammed the door.

No sooner had I closed it than the door and frame shattered as if in an explosion. Nameless had entered, and I sought my escape through the glass window above our washbasin.

As Nameless trashed the cabin, I sprinted around the front and downhill to the outhouse. As I tried to open the door, I heard Nameless racing behind me.

“Open the damned door,” I cried.

“Find your own spot to hide,” Finn returned.

The bull was nearly on me as I ran around the outhouse twice before deciding to climb on top of it. I watched in relative safety as Nameless disappeared into the darkness.

As I contemplated getting down and running up to the shack, I heard the brute come racing back. I had hardly focused on its black silhouette charging from the dark before slamming into the side of the outhouse, scattering boards, magazines, and I supposed, Finn.

The sun was coming up when I finally felt brave enough to lift my head and look around. I was stiff and sore from my tumble, and it was made worse from having played dead on the ground all night.

I could see neither Nameless nor Finn, so I crawled to my knees.

“Finn?” I called.

“Here,” he hollered back.

“You okay?” I asked.

“Do dandy,” he said. “You?”

“I’m still put together,” I answered. “Where are you?”

“In the shitter,” he said.

“No, you’re not, its spread all to hell and back,” I returned.

“Nope,” Finn said, “I’m definately in the shitter.”

Crawling, I made my way to the floor of what had been the outhouse. I looked in the privy hole and saw Finn looking back at me.

“How in the hell did you end up there?” I asked.

“When that freight train hit,” he explained, “It threw me in the air, and when I came down, I landed straight-legged in this here shit.”

As I started to laugh, I heard a sound from behind me that left my blood cold then I felt the ground tremble through my hands. Without hesitation, I jumped in the hole next to Finn.

Soon a face peered over the edge of the privy hole. It was McDaniels who had come back to help us pack out.

He pushed his lid back and scratched his forehead before exclaiming, “Boys, I don’t even want to know how badly you two tied it on last night.”

Death of the Morning God

Their day began as it always had, sunny and bright. By late noon though, that brightness had given way to a heavy gloom, dark clouds, thundershowers, and cold.

As few had paid note to its beginning, fewer paid heed to its ending. The Morning God has passed away, and now general darkness set in.

Still, the rains came as night settled on the land, and those that knew retired to their chambers in prayer and slumber.

Once again, their day began as it always had. A new Morning God showed its magnificent face on them, though they never took note.

Redheads and Runners

Usually, when researching, one tends to narrow down sources. However, I found two more persons of interest and must cover each as each relates to Tanis.

I’m starting with John T. Reid.

Reid was a mining engineer who grew up in Lovelock, Nevada. Not only did he find the petrified shoe print, but he also directed archeologists to the Lovelock Cave, where, in 1924, they unearthed several “redheaded giants.”

In the book “Life Among the Piutes, Their Wrongs and Claims,” Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins writes that these redheaded tule-eaters, or Si-te-cah, often ate their captives.

She also writes about a generational shirt handed down to her with red Si-te-cah hair woven into it. What became of that shirt is unknown.

In an article by Dorothy P. Dansie, titled “John T. Reid’s Case for the Redheaded Giants,” and published in the Fall 1975 issue of the Nevada Historical Society Quarterly, she writes:

“In 1929, Reid accompanied by John A. Runner, government surveyor working out of Lovelock, visited the University of California Archeology Building and asked to see the Lovelock Cave display.”

There are a couple of things worth unpacking in this narrative.

Jack Parsons and L. Ron Hubbard (of Scientology fame) worked what they called “sex majik,” to call down an ancient redheaded Babylonian goddess to earth. Apparently, it worked.

From Martin Chalakowski’s October 2017 article, “The Rocketeer, the Scientologist, and the Lady in Between:” he writes, “A red-haired woman did knock on Parsons’ door, in the form of Marjorie Cameron, an aspiring actress, a beauty to behold and, interestingly, a Hubbard acquaintance.”

The other goes back to the original story, “Where is Tanis?” by Jack Parsons, who writes of a “runner.” Interestingly, in 1929, Reid is accompanied by a name whose last name is Runner.

It might seem like a stretch now, but it gets stranger.

Nevada’s Petrified Shoe Sole

After speaking with a Shoshoni elder about Tanis, she talked with a Paiute elder. Together, they put me on to the name Dr. W.H. Ballou.

According to The Journal of Wild Mushrooms, William Hosea Ballou was no stranger to incorrect opinions. In his 2007 article, Leon Shernoff further writes:

“Of his cockamamie opinions that made it into print, perhaps the one that got the most exposure was his notion that Stegosaurus used the plates along its spine to fly, an idea that was picked up by Edgar Rice Burroughs for his book At the Earth’s Core, where the heroes encounter a number of dinosaurs, including a flying Stegosaurus.”

Ballou also wrote an article that appeared in the American Weekly section of the New York Sunday American on October 8, 1922., titled, “Mystery of the Petrified: Shoe Sole 5,000,000 Years Old.

“Some time ago, while he was prospecting for fossils in Nevada, John T. Reid, a distinguished mining engineer, and geologist stopped suddenly and looked down in utter bewilderment and amazement at a rock near his feet. For there, a part of the rock itself was what seemed to be a human footprint!

Closer inspection showed that it was not a mark of a naked foot but was, apparently, a shoe sole that had been turned into stone. The forepart was missing.

But there was the outline of at least two-thirds of it, and around this outline ran a well-defined sewn thread which had, it appeared, attached the welt to the sole. Further on was another line of sewing, and in the center, where the foot would have rested had the object really been a shoe sole, there was an indentation, exactly such as would have been made by the bone of the heel rubbing upon and wearing down the material of which the sole had been made.

Thus was found a fossil which is the foremost mystery of science today. For the rock in which it was found is at least 5 million years old.”

Geologists inspected and said the print was authentic and that the rock was from the Triassic Period (205-250 million years ago). They could even see the twisted threads of stitching along the outer edge of the sole.

Discovered in Fisher Canyon, Pershing County, Nevada, the fossilized imprint was lost, and its present location is unknown.

Is this a Runner or a Seeker? Maybe John T. Reid or Edgar Rice Burroughs is the key to unlocking this mystery.

Between Reality and Fantasy

A friend, who knows I enjoy pulp literature and history, sent me this short story, “Where is Tanis?” by Jack Parsons. She also knows that my Uncle Orville Harrison worked on the Saturn V rocket project and knew Parsons.

Uncle Orville worked in the Spanish Springs area of Nevada during the rocket testing phase. I live only a few miles from where they conducted those tests.

I believe there is no such thing as “coincidence.”

A quick check of the fabulously unreliable Wikipedia shows that Tanis, a Greek name, is a real place. In ancient Egypt, Tanis was ḏꜥn.t, and in the bible, called Zoan. Having read and reread the story, which seems to be a mish-mash of Star Wars anthology, The Maze Runner, and a touch of Siddhartha, I cannot help but wonder: what is Tanis?

Do I chase it down the rabbit hole that I suspect Tanis to be or be satisfied to call it that place between reality and fantasy?

Lyon County Rejects Affidavit Requesting 2020 Election Audit

Two notarized affidavits have been file again requesting an audit of the 2020 presidential election, including one in Lyon County.

The filings follow an official notice of maladministration served on Monday, June 7, to the office of Gov. Steve Sisolak, demanding a full forensic audit of the 2020 election. Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske’s office, other state officials, and county recorders were sent affidavits by certified mail.

Lyon County Recorder Margie Kassebaum rejected the affidavit in a form letter, citing the possibility of criminal charges should the filing be unlawful.

Kassebaum responded to Mindy Robinson, Rhonda Rau, Bonnie Taylor, and Deana Villei’s filing, saying they “have the right to request judicial review of this denial,” adding that if the refiling was not done “in such a manner that it may be lawfully recorded” and if “knowingly procuring” or causing a “false or forged instrument to be filed,” those filing may be found “guilty of a category C felony,” unless “a greater penalty is provided.”

Robinson, a Nevada Congressional District 3 candidate, said the state constitution is clear about proving an election is valid.

“It’s not about pushing for a certain party or wanting one candidate to win over the other,” Robinson said. “It’s about making sure our votes matter. Unlike a lawsuit where it would be our job to prove anything, these affidavits remind the state that it’s their job to prove to us there wasn’t a fraud.”

Neither Sisiolak nor Cegavske has responded to the affidavits sent to them.

Bug Up the Ass

“I’m sorry,” the nurse said. “What?”

Jim repeated himself, “I have a bug up my ass.”

“Well, sir, you need to calm down so I can get some information from you.”

“I can’t calm down, he said a third time, “I have a bug up my ass.”

The nurse pushed a series of numbers on the phone, then hung it up. In less than a minute to burley uniformed men appeared in the waiting room.

The nurse looked at the pair, then at Jim. Within seconds they had Jim strapped to a gurney and were wheeling him into an emergency room bay.

The more Jim shouted about having a ‘bug up his ass,’ the more they ignored him. Nearly nine hours later, long after Jim had gone quiet, a doctor finally came to examine him.

“This man’s dead,” the doctor said.

A quick check revealed that Jim had choked on something still in his throat. With forceps at the ready, the doctor pried Jim’s mouth open.

Before he could react, the something in Jim’s throat leaped out and clamped its large pincer-shaped mandibles around the doctor’s throat. The doctor’s head popped off his neck before he could make a sound.

Welcome to iCOP

The U.S. Postal Service is running a covert operation called Internet Covert Operations Program (iCop,) which tracks and collects social media posts.

Using Clearview AI’s facial recognition database and Zignal Labs’ real-time keyword search software, investigators look for what documents describe as “inflammatory” postings. Then that information is shared with other government agencies.

“Analysts with the United States Postal Inspection Service Internet Covert Operations Program monitored significant activity regarding planned protests occurring internationally and domestically on March 20, 2021,” reads a March 16 government bulletin, marked as “law enforcement sensitive” and distributed through the Department of Homeland Security. “Locations and times have been identified for these protests, which are being distributed online across multiple social media platforms, to include right-wing leaning Parler and Telegram accounts.”

It begins with the USPS’ “Informed Delivery.” The app allows you to see what has been delivered to your mailbox by photographing the envelopes and packages, then sending them via text to your device.

By consenting to the use of this benign-looking app, it can, with an algorithm, alert inspectors to whatever “threat” they are searching.

Say you receive a mailer from the National Rifle Association (NRA.) You will be flagged and subjected to a warrantless search because you “consented” to using the “Informed Delivery” app.

The NRA is used here for demonstration purposes only because federal documents do not mention left-leaning organizations like Antifa or Black Lives Matter.

The Newest Member of the Third-World

“NV Energy is urging its electric customers in both northern and southern Nevada to conserve electricity today and tomorrow between 6 and 9 p.m. in order to offset energy supply issues caused by record-breaking heat and wildfires affecting electric transmission lines throughout the western United States,” reads the press release.

It goes on to offer measures to conserve energy during this period include:

  • Turn off lights.
  • Turn off pool pumps.
  • Unplug appliances, not in use.
  • Avoid using large electrical appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines, and electric clothes dryers.
  • Adjust the thermostat to 78 degrees or higher to reduce the use of air conditioning during this time, barring any medical issues, and use ceiling fans to cool people and pets. Pre-cool your home before 6 p.m.
  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer closed as much as possible.
  • Draw curtains, shades, or blinds to keep out the heat.
  • Do not charge electric vehicles between 6 and 9 p.m.

Does anyone besides myself remember when the U.S. was considered the most prosperous nation in the world?

The Story within the Story

A Washoe County, Nevada, School District counselor is in jail for possessing child pornography. Investigators found more than 250 suspected images and videos of child pornography in emails and electronic devices that Tyler Quinn Ball-Imdahl, 26, owned.

If guilty, he deserves everything that the justice system throws at him. However, I cannot tell which is scarier — a pedophile or the loss of liberty.

Buried in the same story is that Yahoo reported the man to authorities that he received emails with intimate images of juvenile males. Yahoo is searching his email, invading his privacy.

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety,” wrote Benjamin Franklin.

And claiming that the accused said yes to a user agreement is bogus because these so-called agreements are no agreement at all. After all, if you say no, you cannot use the platform. It is akin to saying you cannot use the road in front of your home because you disagree with paying taxes on that road.

We no longer live in a free nation. And it is only a matter of time before tech companies begin turning their algorithms on those critical of the U.S. Government, calling it “radical” and a danger to national security.

But then again, Facebook trolls are already online warning you not to think for yourself and how to identify and report people who are “radicalizing.”

Sheetless

In a better world, Jamison would not have been ‘off.’ But a traumatic brain injury received in Iraq had brought him to this point in his life if life is what one could call it.

When it began, he couldn’t remember. All Jamison knew was that hiding under the brilliant white sheet made him feel better.

And that’s how he moved around the house. He had cut-outs for his eyes and socks on his perpetually freezing feet, another oddity from the blast of the improvised explosive that discharged, killing nearly everyone in the Humvee.

Quietly he moved from room to room doing odds and ends. Other times he could be found standing at the window of his bedroom looking out at the rope swing he and his children once played on.

It was at the window where he first saw the other, a white sheet-clad person, like him, standing in their window some one-hundred feet away. The figure waved at him. Obligingly, Jamison returned the wave before turning away.

For the next two days, he didn’t see the person in the window. Then on the third, they were back.

Jamison smiled. He realized that it had been a long time since he’d last smiled or even had a reason to.

It was the fourth day when everything changed. He watched as the sheet-clad figure slowly slid the white cloth from themselves.

Horrified, Jamison jumped back from the window and quickly drew the blinds. Shaken by what he’d seen, he sat on the end of his bed, only to find himself awaking under the blankets the following day.

As he laid there, he thought. Soon, and without the security of his sheet, he walked into the bathroom to look at himself in the mirror, something he had not done in a long time.

Again, horror overcame him, but this time he stood his ground against shrinking away. He knew he had to face the truth, that, like the old lady across the yard in the other house, he too was dead.

Willie Pete

The white-washed hallway stank of antiseptic. Despite the overpowering stench, Owen could also smell the metallic odor of blood beneath the facade of cleanliness.

Ahead of him was a double door, and Owen had an idea of the sort of horror he might find beyond it. When he reached the door and opened it, he was not surprised.

The trio gathered around a patient strapped to an operating table, a light illuminating their surgery. It took them a moment to realize Owen was there, and it took him less time to see the patient was a distorted version of himself.

Owen fired his revolver.

The doctor went spinning back, half his head missing as blood, brains, and bone sprayed on the nurse closest to him. She collapsed in a heap as a slug caught her in the throat, partially decapitated her.

The other nurse escaped through a side door.

Owen’s gun continued to bark, and within moments, he alone. He pulled the ring free of the old M34 white phosphorus grenade and stuffed it carefully in the mouth of his growling doppelganger.

The smell of burning flesh, mingled with the “willie pete,” filled the air, driving Owen from the room.

By the Minute

It was a simple three-story one-room walk-up with a small interior bathroom. Terry Sutherland had lived there for nearly a decade.

He was comfortable with his batting-stuffed bed, an oversized wingback chair, a few old books, and an antique clock. He did not have a kitchen in his room.

Terry’s life was simple. His clothes hung in a narrow closet built into the wall along the narrow hall to the “water closet,” which consisted of a small sink and toilet.

He kept his life uncluttered out of necessity, as his obsessive-compulsive disorder could get out of hand. And he no longer had access to the medication he once used to control his condition.

As of late, however, the old mechanical clock was giving him fits. Five times since mid-June, it had fallen behind by a minute and no longer synched up with his pocket watch.

He recalibrated the two to match, only to wake up and find it had slipped back by that minute.

“What in the hell?” Terry said after getting up.

Once again, the clock was a minute off. After resetting it, Terry showered, dressed, ate the biscuit he purchased the day before, before leaving for the factory.

There he was considered an enterprising, clever, and hard-working man. Recently, Terry had earned a small raise after showing his inventiveness in repairing a faulty light switch in his boss’ private office.

Down the three flights of stairs, he walked to the front door. The knob rattled noisily in his hand as he twisted it and opened the door.

Beyond the threshold, it was still 1921, and still, he found himself trapped in the time loop. He had hated his life before, but other than the problem of the wind-up clock, his new life was perfect.

Moved by Unknown Reason

Not once have I posted a story to this blog about an unknown person, save for a historical figure. However, while researching a news article for Dayton, Nev., I found this obituary from Fort Dodge, Iowa, newspaper, “The Messenger.”

I decided to only post a snippet of the obituary before I quickly don’t explain why I find it fascinating…

“Edith Ruth Bloomquist, 98, of Nevada, and formerly of Dayton, went home to be with her Savior on June 30, 2021. This is also the date, June 30, she married Paul Bloomquist in 1945.

Edith was born on her family farm south of Fort Dodge on April 16, 1923, to Anna (Jondle) and Laddie Fiala. Edith graduated from Otho High School in 1941, attended Iowa State Teacher’s College, in Cedar Falls, and then taught country school at Elkhorn #5 for three years.”

My dad was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa, like Mrs. Bloomquist, and Dayton, Nev. is part of my primary beat as a news reporter. These two facts simply moved me demonstrating how the world has become such a small place nowadays, and I have to wonder if perchance they knew one another.

Many condolences to Mrs. Bloomquist’s loved ones.

Merchant of the First Guild

“You’re the rudest motherfucker ever,” Mr. Black said to Mr. Pink.

“Why?” Pink asked, “Because I said what everyone was think, but didn’t have the guts to say?”

They were sitting outside, talking, enjoying beers, the night filled with glittering stars and a waning half-moon. It was Mr. Green that started the conversation.

“Have any of you seen the movie ‘Inglorious Bastards,’ by Quentin Tarantino?” he asked.

Some of us had, some had not. Black hadn’t.

“That movie gets me,” Green added, “After all, I’m the son of Polish-Jews who survived the Nazi death camps. Makes me wonder where he gets his ideas.”

“I can tell you,” Pink said.

“No you can’t,” Green said. “He doesn’t even know where he comes up with some the shit, himself.”

“What was the story you were telling us before you changed the subject?” Black asked.

“You mean about exterminating ground squirrels?” he said.

“Yeah,” Pink said.

“What about it?” Green said.

“You have a six-million dollar contract to kill them,” Pink said, adding, “How do you kill them again?”

“Dude,” Black said, “You ain’t going there, are you?”

Pink ignored him.

“We capture them in cages,” Green responded. “Then we empty the cages into what amounts to a garbage can, put the lid on it, and hook the can up to the exhaust pipe on one of our service trucks and gas them.”

“There you go,” Pink said.

“There I go what?” he asked.

“You’re a Polish-Jew that uses the same friggin’ method of killing squirrels that the Nazis used on your people,” Pink said. “Where do you think you got your idea?”

“Man, that’s some heavy shit,” Green said.

“Your jus’ like Quentin Tarantino  and you don’t even effing know it,” Mr. Pink said.

“Wow, thanks for the compliment,” Mr. Green said.

That’s when Mr. Black chimed in, “You’re the rudest motherfucker ever.”

Daedalus’ False Account

Icarus’ cause of death was always a lie.
He did not die flying too close to the sun.
Icarus was shot out of the sky.
His frightened death-screams long faded.

An ambitious dreamer dashed violently to the ground.
His drifting feathers meant to frighten us.
Icarus’ murder is a powerful message:
Dreams have a power of their own, even in death.

In the Earth, pt. 4

Daily, I earned slightly enough to buy groceries in the evening. Each day went by quickly.

But now it was October and getting much colder in the nights. The family next to my tent had a woodstove. I had nothing, and besides my tent and what was in it.

Bitterly I decided to leave. Soon the weather would change from cold to deathly freezing.

Returning to the highway, I passed water towers, homes, outbuildings, and a factory, then hitched a ride to Reno. The driver dropped me off in front of a Walmart.

Inside, I bought bread, baloney, and a beer, then sat on the low retaining wall in the back of the store and made a couple of sandwiches. As I ate in silence, I knew this was the end of something worth noting.

I could feel the pull of my own life calling me back.

In the Earth, pt. 3

When the sun grew high and the day too hot, we trudged to the end of the field. There we unloaded our burden and picked up my day’s wage.

Back across the highway, I borrowed a bicycle and rode to a mom-and-pop grocery store. I bought cans of Spam, Ravioli’s, baloney, bread, instant coffee, and a case of water.

On my little hiking stove, I warmed up the Ravioli’s, made instant coffee in the now-empty ravioli can, and ate one of the best meals of my life. Hunger satiated, but still, achingly tired, I reclined on my bedroll, sighed, and drift in and out of dreamless sleep.

Dogs barked in the distant cool of the night. Music twanged, vibrated, and carried across the fields.

All was right with me.

That morning I got up, put on my pants, which were all torn, went to the blockhouse to wash, came back, put on an old nearly worn-out straw hat, and went across the highway. Every muscle and bone in my body screamed for surrender.

In the Earth, pt. 2

In the morning, I got up, washed, and took a walk around the place because the work had not begun. That night I went to bed in the sweet night air beneath a dewy tent.

Three days and nights: no work, little food, warm beers, all freely given to me by others in the same shape as me. We huddled around a bond fire each night, where I would listen to their stories and the songs of a hard life.

Finally, we began working.

In a large tent near mine lived a family. They consisted of the grandfather, his wife, their son and daughter, their spouses, and half-a-dozen children.

Each filed every dawn across the highway to the field and went to work. And each morning, I followed behind them.

We bent down and began picking. Soon my hands began to cramp, fingertips to bleed; I needed gloves or more experience, and my back ached.

Each day I strived to catch up to the children as they moved along the cultivated rows. Each day, I fell behind and was never able to match their speed or skill.

But I never surrendered to the feeling of defeat that often overcame me.