Source: New Comic Up!
Source: New Comic Up!
Chapter 17. Tom’s Thumb
Finals over, Doctor Manga and his staff looked at the image she created from a blank canvas, talked to her at length in the middle of a classroom of other students who needed make-up testing. The written sections were long, but she knew every answer.
Four hours later, she was back at the Wizard, a great weight off her soul while she traced her fingers over the computer and built-in phone charger that Tom would put his mobile phone in and then forget where he put the electronic equipment.
Kaylee sat on the sofa and pondered, her mind she thought would be clear with the finals test over. Was as conflicted as anyone ever could be.
*Ugh. One one hand, he was the most wonderful person I have ever met, all that history on the net even stands up for him.* She rubbed her forehead. *But he is not Glenn, and I have a life to live on my own.*
“Ugh!” The scream and clenched fists, and she felt no better.
She gave herself a five-minute cry and a few minutes to recover. After she caught her breath, Kaylee walked to her car to drive to the bar and ask if she could get her job back. She hated to go in and beg with her bottom lip poked out and her hat in hand. If that would not work, she knew that another pub down the street that had just opened, only they had already staffed up their positions. It would be difficult to talk her way into the next pub if they had no open positions.
But in the next few minutes, all the plans of job-hunting would soon be forgotten.
The moment she walked out of the metal hanger, her cell phone started ringing. The number was the same one on the business card that Lettie, the owner and driver of the limousine that had taken her to the Stockton airport had given her.
“Hello, this is Lettie Nesmith, I’m calling for Kaylee .”
“Hi Lettie! This is Kaylee .”
“Kaylee! Hey! Listen, Tom’s been hurt. They took him to the hospital about six-hours ago. Rumor has it that he hurt his hand and they are talking about flying him to San Francisco in a helicopter.”
“Ohmygod” Kaylee said it as if it was a single word. “What happened?”
“My cousin says he hurt his hand. They are sending him to a hospital in San Francisco that specializes in sewing on hands and stuff.”
“Sewing on … His hand? What happened.”
“I don’t know, but no one called you?”
“No, but I have not been getting service. I was in the plane that is inside the hangar.”
“Okay, anyway. You should charter a flight back to Sacramento.” Lettie sounded stressed. ”The sooner the better.”
“I don’t know how to do that.” Kaylee said.
Kaylee could hear papers get shuffled on the other end.
“Okay, don’t worry about it, I will take care of the details. Did you say he had given you a charge card?”
“Oh! Yes! But how do I…”
“Kaylee, I’ll find somebody to call you. I know who Tom deals with when he’s not flying his own planes.”
“I don’t know, I was kind of bitchy to him when I spoke to him last time.”
“It’s up to you. But I saw how you act when you talk about him. Your husband is hurt, it might be serious, and you will to kick yourself later.” Lettie’s voice was like another sister giving support. “I have a driver that is available.”
“Okay. Tell him my number, I’m at the South Harbor Airport.”
“He will pick you up right away, he’s at that same airport.”
She looked out over the tarmac towards the executive jet airlines and started walking to the office.
“Excuse me, miss. But you cannot walk here, are you lost?” It was an airport security officer driving up in an electric cart.
“I’m leaving on a plane, I just left the Pacific Wizard and I received a call to meet a chartered plane here. I’m running over to the office now.”
“Sorry, still, you not allowed to walk here. Walk around on the marked walkway.” He pointed to red, blue, green and yellow painted lines on the ground. “Follow the green line and it will take you to the executive charter lobby.”
“Can I ride with you over there?”
“No ma’am.” He said as he drove off, an alarm sounded on his radio of unauthorized access of the grounds by a car on the far side of the terminals.
Grumbling at how it was that the rules forced her to walk around when she was only had a hundred feet or so in a straight line. It would mean heading in the opposite direction and around.
Looking over her shoulder as she headed out to the walkway gate, the security car sped off after the car trying to enter a clearly marked “Do not enter” area.
She paused for a heartbeat, watching the golf cart race off at the top speed of a fast walk for a few minutes. The guard never looked back.
She took two, then four tentative steps to follow the painted line. Then turned and ran in the straight line to the executive charter office as fast as she could.
* This is an emergency, I can’t stop.*
She skidded to a stop at the back door of the charter office and quickly composed herself.
She put her hand on the door, took a breath and walked in as if she had not just broke the rules.
Chapter 7. The Water-Taxi
Her first water taxi ride was an adventure.
She spent twenty minutes putting on the dress she had felt pretty in. But now she did not want to look like a party-girl in the views of anyone else.
This entertained Tom a great deal while he watched her put everything together.
Shoes, dress, then she wore a sweatshirt over that, gave herself a critical look, turning this way and that.
Then pulled it all off, put on a pair of his sweatpants and a t-shirt, then a sweatshirt to finish the look of high heels and sweats.
Tom laughed every couple of minutes while she mumbled to herself, pulling her dark hair into a pony tail, brushing it out, then braiding it.
“You go all out for the walk-of-shame.” He rocked in his chair with laughter until he choked on his own spit.
“Oh hush.” She stuck her tongue out at him.
In the last few days she had not left the Pacific Wizard and had no idea what the whole plane looked like. She had seen it only from the roof of the big plane or inside.
She had spent so much time inside this airplane, with this man she barely knew, but during a drunken party she had somehow married him.
Thoughts pounded Kaylee about the tangled mess of it all. She could not see the end.
She did not know how to accept it, she had thoughts to annul this and be rid of Tom and this accident as soon as possible.
Still, this man who had his name on the marriage license along with hers was special.
And, danged if he didn’t made her soul feel light.
So she felt some fear by telling this caring man that she wanted to leave the plane without him to go home.
Like he would not be there when she came back. If he would just disappear like a dream if she turned her back too long.
That thought bothered her.
A yellow boat with a blue-and-white striped canvas shade pulled up to the door and Tom pulled a lever and pressed a button, the door opened up like a giant bird extending its wing.
Tom leaned out and paid the boat-pilot who thanked him, calling him Mister Harte, but Tom asked to use first names.
“Yes, Sir, Mr. Tom. Morning Ma’am.” The taxi-pilot looked as if it was all he did. “Be careful getting in.”
She kissed Tom at the edge before she stepped into the water-taxi in deep thought. It was a new experience. The taxi swayed and rocked more than the big plane when she settled in.
“Can we go around the plane so I can see it all?” She asked, the flying-boat that had been her home for forty-eight hours non-stop.
“Aye-aye, Ma’am.” It was an affected tone. The pilot of the boat could have just been a student from the University working over the summer.
“Oh ma’am, look at that.”
When the stubby yellow boat pulled away he turned the wheel and showed her the view.
From the outside, the jet was as beautiful as could be, and the plane was massive! At least a hundred feet long and the wings were wider than the length.
Twin jet engines up high with the T-tail she had to looked up at while standing on the roof of the big plane. Now they blocked the sun as the water-taxi’s motor rumbled and slowly moved them under the tail’s shadow.
The jet, painted deep blue from the nose that faded to a forest-green on the rear of the plane with a wizard and a witch riding brooms on the engine nacelles. The wings had boat-shaped pontoons to keep the wingtips out of the water.
The Pacific Wizard was exquisitely beautiful — and her home if she wanted it.
On the tip of the nose of the plane, painted with the sun, with two killer whales jumping towards each other making a mustache on the sun. Under the mustache of whales, a smile of the ocean, painted on just above the waterline.
Riding the taxi to shore, the pilot of the boat looked the plane over from the distance.
“That is a beautiful vessel, how long have you owned it?”
“It belongs to…” She paused. “My husband. He had it before we got married.”
It saddened her with that thought. She was not supposed to be married, the beautiful home with wings.
*I need to think.*
“Must be nice!” He nodded and smiled. “Able to start the engines and be someplace exotic in a few hours.”
“Yes. We have flown to Las Vegas and back in a single night.”
“Wow… nice! That’s gnarly!” The taxi-boat pilot laughed. He was no more than twenty. Then asked. “Does Mister Tom have a sister?“
“You know… That is a mystery.” She said quietly as they pulled up to the dock. Leaving a slightly puzzled taxi driver sitting in his boat.
*I need to know a lot more about Tom.* Her curious side awakened. She had more than thinking to do.
Chapter 3. Unwanted Visitor
Her drifted shut when the book hit her in the face for the third time.
Kaylee laughed at herself and remembered she needed to re-apply sunscreen, it had been nearly an hour since she had lain on the towel between the logs.
She was warm and sleep crept around the edges of her soul when the timer on her phone buzzed. She reached over to her bag and pulled out the bottle of spray sunscreen out to spray herself with another dose of sunblock when a man with his back to her, bumped into the end of the driftwood that served as her privacy screen.
“Oh! Excuse me.” He looked around. “Don’t mind me. I…”
He looked at her oddly, then pulled a long butcher knife from his towel.
“Shut up and be quiet.” He growled in a low voice. “Stay quiet and you won’t get hurt.”
Deep inside her, an ember of frustration sparked into a firestorm of rage. I’m in no mood for this!
She stood with uncontrolled fury in her eyes, a short-time before, she wanted to hurt someone. Now this pervert just volunteered and she was about to oblige the man who dared threaten her in blind overconfidence that was going to end in disaster for him.
“Go away!” Kaylee Simone Grant said loudly as she could, the note-writer turned his head and looked in their direction, stood and walked in their direction.
“Bitch! You will get on your…” Then interrupted by assault of the naked woman and screamed when she broke his wrist and took his knife away.
The force of her attack knocked the stout rapist backwards and grabbed the man’s wounded arm.
Her mass, perhaps half the attacker’s, pulled him down and off-balance, she swung her right leg over his arm. The pressure of her weight forced him to his knees face-down and he used his left hand t support himself.
“Bitch!” He had lost the fight and knew it. “Let go!”
“Do not call me…” A snap kick, Kaylee slammed her shin across assailant’s face, broke his nose and exploded the bone in his cheek. The lever that was his arm, bent backwards beyond it’s limits when she snapped it backwards over her thigh and screamed back at him. “A bitch!”
His screams of anguish was music to her ears as she continued to pummel the would-be rapist against the driftwood. His size might have been an advantage in the start of the battle – in his own eyes.
Now broken man knelt in the sand, frightened and blood flowed from his mouth and nose into the sand. Slowly, with a heroic effort, the rapist got to his feet. And she rewarded him with a fractured breastbone from a kick to the chest. As a threat, she neutralized him one last time when he fell backwards over a low part of the log for the last time.
Out of the corner of her eye, she could see the notebook man was ran towards the sounds of bloody screams. (Kaylee was not known as a quiet student when she worked out, this real-life combat was no different.)
A final stomp into the groin of the monster left the him in breathless pain as he writhed against the large, weather-smoothed driftwood that served as her privacy screen when she relaxed alone in the sun.
“Do you need help?” The slightly overweight note-taker was two-hundred pounds with muscular arms. He looked like he could take care of the rather broken assailant that lay in agony on the sand, if she had not gotten there first.
“Um, no thanks. I’d say this is over, but I need a phone that works to call the police. I have no service here.” She looked at her would-be knight.
“I have a sat-phone. You can use it, there’s also a c-phone in my bag but I don’t know the reception. I have used my satellite phone all day.” He said and walked back to his beach blanket.
Kaylee watched him walk away, his backside was like two halves of a tightly inflated volleyball and they were about the size of the palm of her hand, a nice view.
That’s cute. Thoughts danced in her head while her eyes bounced with each cheek as he walked away from her.
There are advantages for nude beaches. The thought made her smile. It satisfied her with the beat-down she gave the attacker who now lay on the sand holding his arm while his nose bleed freely. She kicked the predator once more for her own pleasure and turned away.
Note-pad walked the phone to her hand, the delivery was not as scenic as it was when he walked back with the phone, and disappointed her that he had wrapped up in a towel.
And she still stood there naked while she dialed the emergency number, and was suddenly cold.
While she spoke with the emergency operator, Note-Pad gave her an oversized beach towel from his bag to wrap up in and handed her a t-shirt to wear from her pile of clothes, then turned on the would-be rapist and threatened him to stay still or his next experience would be a painful experience that he would never forget. Then laughed at his own joke he did not intend to make.
It was an extremely twisted day, but she felt pleased with the outcome with the end results of it all.
I should beat someone once a day She laughed inwardly.
“Yood b’ke m’ fook’n node a’d arb!” The assailant said in a sticky voice, full of blood on his lips and hands. “Fook’n bid”
“You are lucky,” Note-Pad nodded. “I’d have buried you here.”
“Fug du’.” The broken knife weilder’s said as he retched from the blood that poured down his throat.
Kaylee had her back to Note-Pad and pulled on her pants. She draped the towel around her neck and let it hang it down to cover her breasts, embarrassed by the tent under her thin shirt.
“Thank you for your help,” She told Note-Pad. “I think, you need to stay here as a witness for the police.”
“No problem, he will need an ambulance trip I would wager. That nose is pretty mashed.”
They both looked at the broken man for a moment, then the sounds of beach patrol’s sirens drove to where they stood with the disabled and broken stalker.
Note-Pad ran out to the pickup truck with an illuminated light-bar and waved an orange and black towel.
Kaylee felt lighter. Her mood improved to one of satisfaction after that. It was Friday and she had an entire weekend to look forward to.
She was over her adrenaline rush when the men with badges walked up and all the stress of the day hit her at once.
Kaylee, the warrior-woman of justice and retribution of the beach began to cry.
Chapter 2. Sand Between The Toes
A long hike, at least it was mainly downhill. Three times, vehicles passed by with sirens. Police, fire and an ambulance traveled in a rush of different directions began to cause pain, she stopped and put her fingers in her ears until the emergency sirens were out of range.
The town was a tourist and college community. A large bay with a harbor carved out on the north end by a massive prehistoric waterfall, long since drowned in the ocean after the glaciers receded, served as a center for tourism.
After the long hike, she finally arrived at the beach and walked to the privacy rooms where outdoor showers allowed those salt and sand encrusted humans to clean themselves. She stepped through the middle door where the floor appeared less fouled with dirty feet and people who could not seem to hit the toilet.
Kaylee’s fingers ached as she put down her bag and pulled out her towel then set it aside and pulled out a hard-cover book, a novel by the author Sanne Footman, of a woman who was a photographer that traveled the world and worked undercover for news stories.
It was a cheesy, but well written, series of novellas. The author composed a lot of romantic scenes that where Kaylee’s guilty pleasure, she often had travel-the-world dreams. From one exotic location to another with boyfriends at each stop.
She Dug deeper into her bag and set out the contents, a frown crossed her lips.
She looked through the towels, unrolled and shook them out. No… in a towel up by mistake.
Damn! No swimsuit?
Then she remembered, she had gone to a pool party in the hills with some friends, she rinsed her suit and hung it on the towel rack by the shower. Then hung a towel over it.
The anger with herself crossed her face like clouds a thunderstorm. She picked up her gear and packed up the bag and stepped out into the sunlight and walked to the edge of the sand from the outdoor showers.
She looked north and south, the beach was sparsely populated with families and kids to the south.
Off to the north, only a few people were there. A posted sign in the distance, she could not read it from here, but knew what the paint on the metal panel said:
“Clothing optional beyond this point only.”
She nodded to herself, she was not a stranger to the nude beach. And she was in no mood for a hike to the apartment, but the choices were to continue or to go back to where she started this awful day and then, maybe, return.
No, it was time to shed some of the cares along with her clothes. If she needed to walk all the way back before she relaxed and recuperated, she would hurt someone. Perhaps some poor soul who would walk by and wish her to “Have a nice day.” The person would never understand the fury that would be unleashed.
“Nice day.” Indeed.
Dare ya… Just… Just dare ya! Hands clenched into rock hard clubs with the emotional storm that crossed her mind.
So, a walk on the beach? Time to peace out. The thought was pleasant.
She passed the sign as she walked towards the water. She let ten-minutes pass before she peeled off her pants and shoes.
She walked in just her shirt and underwear in the ankle-deep waves, she enjoyed the cool water of the Alaskan current of the Pacific, The water chill against her thighs while she waded a little deeper past a couple while they played with a frisbee and their dog.
The dog was much more dressed than couple. She laughed when the man tried to play keep-away from the dog who took a nip of the man’s bare organ.
The nude woman laughed out loud when she also saw the small Australian Shepherd play dirty to win the prized plastic disk.
“Good boy, Oz!” The woman laughed out loud again and took the toy from the excited dog while the man got to his feet while he laughed and complained about the devious dog.
Kaylee walked on and looked among the driftwood where couples sat and talked in the nude. Some read books, and some for all appearances, looked asleep.
Another couple cuddled on a blanket. The woman’s hands pushed the limits the law while she kissed with her male companion.
Kaylee found a quiet spot and slipped out of the rest of her clothes and spread the towel on the sand. A man about a hundred paces off was laid on his stomach wrote in a notepad. The sun glistened on beads of water on his back, he had just been in the water for a swim.
Otherwise, she was alone. The coastal-chill breeze made her skin pucker slightly as she sat on the blanket and opened her book. Out of sight from anyone thanks to the large logs of driftwood that made a private little patch of sand.
This was a perfect place on an otherwise messed-up and horrible day to lay naked on a beach with no one near. No bars on her phone so she turned it off.
She rubbed sunblock into her skin while she took fifteen minutes to prepare for recreational read and relax. She enjoyed the smell of the coconut perfume and the sensations of the heat, she would probably sleep, but had no desire for a sunburn.
She already received a sunburn last year, Melanie enjoyed her older sister’s discomfort while she applied medicated skin cream to the places that Kaylee could not. Sisters could laugh at each other for the burned places that rarely saw sunshine, and Kaylee had fallen asleep on her stomach.
The burn to the back of her legs and cheeks of her backside prevented the elder Grant to sit for a few days. Much to the delight of the taller but younger “kid-sister”.
Kaylee just did not want to ask Melanie to rub cream into her burned skin again, once was enough embarrassment for a lifetime.
The sun did feel good, she would deal with the tires, the professor and the broken shoelace soon enough.
For now? She was needed to get into the book of guilty pleasure and, maybe, fall asleep on the edge of the largest body of water in the world.
After a day gone haywire, she was alone and at peace. Kaylee Simone Grant would let this frantic-Friday dissolve into an unhappy memory and the disappointment, frustration and fury would soon be forgotten.
To be alone for a while and listen to the waves, birds and feel the sun was all she needed.
Chapter 1: Broken Morning Breaks
Beep! Beepbeepbeep. Her phone squealed to life, cacophony of lights and alarms to alert that her day had begun.
Annoying damned electronic, cruel, noisy gift from her sister.
She already had a headache from her studies until well after midnight. She even studied in her dreams with books and notepads that chased her.
This was today’s name for Kaylee Grant.
Then, her day went from bad to worse.
“Oh, god.” She was out of coffee. No tea, either. What a miserable day.
But then, she hated all mornings that started before noon.
Next experience part of the pre-coffee day, a broken shoelace.
She retied the lace on her work-shoe took more time than she had allowed and was now late, Kaylee stumbled to her car with a loose shoelace and discovered that someone had gone down the block and slashed everyone’s tires.
Vandalism that included her tires.
Two flat tires! Twenty minutes drive, no car and now she was late for work.
Even Melanie, her sister who lived in the apartment below her had already left for school. Finals week, and Melanie ate breakfast at school while she studied up to the last-minute.
Kaylee had final scheduled before noon and needed to go to work to get a few hours on the clock.
Even when she called in, the manager told her that there was no one to cover her tables for the breakfast rush and she had to make it – or else.
Even if she showed up late, was not enough, he paid her cash and invited her to find employment elsewhere as a waitress, barista and bartender.
Being fired just Set the mood for the day, and Melanie still did not answer her phone, so she needed to walk the five miles to class at Ocean Bay University for the Arts and was unable to focus on her finals, time and again she tried to name off the six traits that identify the Severe Style and only sigh. It was a lost cause, she could name off the pages and chapters of the book where the traits where documents, even the paragraphs. But the traits were a blank spot in her memory.
Of the two pages of essay test, she could only answer half of them. The Professor walked slowly around the room and watched the students write – and professor became curious to her anxiety and told her to put the test down and to see him later.
*Yeah, later.* She hated that thought.
In his office he would grant that she passed the test, but only after she agreed to pose for him.
“To paint you.” he said.
*Oh, Yeah. I bet.*
A nude pose, while she held a phallic symbol of a banana was the probable setup.
She passed on that offer.
Early in the day, it was still before noon, so she chose to take her frustrations out at the academy of martial arts and get some time in practice for her Guru Level in Eskrima Serrada.
While she warmed up, she dropped her rattan stick three times, fell twice and tossed the weapon across the room once. The Guru of the school gave a gentle laughed and worked out with her.
The flow drill was awful. She could not get the speed at first, at last she achieved what she considered a proper workout, and she disarmed the Guru after an hour. Still and all, her performance was below her level and she was not able to focus.
“Go home and relax. You are way off today.”
His words, meant to comfort her, only served to enrage her soul further.
“To hell with it, I’ll go to the beach!” She said to herself and took her bag with towels and swimsuit out of the closet and a bottle of water to drink from the fridge.
One job termination, one failed test at the university that her parents paid a hefty price for and now the Guru all but patted her on the head and told her it would be all right.
THAT pissed her off.
Patronized by the Guru that she respected above anyone in the academy, well, except for the GrandMaster when he came to town.
She hiked the two miles to the beach and she moved through the angles of her martial art in her thoughts. Angry as she was, she imagined using her bare hands to beat someone into submission for a change.
She should beat anyone who took advantage of her unfortunate moments.
Sitting at the top of the to-do list, she wanted to find and beat the dirt-bag that cut her tires.
Everyone’s tires and left her with no one to even ask for a favor in that early hour. It promised to be a lot of money she did not have to replace those tires, now without a job, she would have to call dad. Not even her sister had money she could borrow to buy tires.
She took a deep breath and let it out in a slow controlled exhale. Maybe she could buy used tires? At fraction of the cost of new treads on the car, it still took a bite out of her budget.
And budget woes brought her back. Back to the thoughts to inflict pain on selected people.
Pain to people who cut the tires of her car, pain to professors that wanted little more than to have her stand on a stage, naked.
She wanted time with the Guru who – Well, she liked him, he always treated her well and she did not want to cause pain to him. Still, she wanted to disarm him and toss him around the padded floor for a change, like he had done with her at the Academy of the Filippino Martial Art.
Kaylee Grant, waitress, barista, bartender, sun-worshipper, peaceful college student wanted to beat someone with her fists, sticks and feet until they cried.
She walked along the sidewalk to the beach more than ten-thousand feet distant. Her mind worked out the math, while her artist’s soul sought the beauty in the world while she thought and measured of how she might draw or paint this tree or that mall.
The walk to the beach had the effect to sooth her spirit and gave her time to become introspective, she pondered about a change in her major. Three years in this school and change?
*Unwise.* She shook her head. *Better to stick it out, now. If I have to tell Pops that he was up for an extra couple years of tuition for studies? That would create a family storm I have no desire to cause.*
Dad, a good man, but she had seen him lose his temper with people over the years. A rare occurrence, but even the mayor of her home town backed down at a council’s open forum while her dad (Then the city manager.) and the mayor clashed.
Kaylee walked on, her white-knuckled hold on her beach-bag slowly relaxing to something less than a death-grip, the sunshine and beach already having the effect of calm and relaxation she needed.
And she did not even have her toes in the sand yet.
Rather: Hershey the dog did. Of all her stress did not come to pass, the neighbor had it correct that the distance to the beach (two, almost three miles away. maybe 4 km) alleviated a lot of agony and anxiety, Hershey the dog walked around and checked on people, but conversations kept going, TV was on, no one reacted, so checking in with humans, poking her nose into the face of Princess #2 and being petted by Princess #1. All was good in the world.
A long walk on the beach, ocean, thousands of people and dogs to sniff, see and taste (She licked one dog in the face, one baby had his (or her?) face cleaned.) Hershey was tired. So in all, distant fireworks did not draw undue anxiety out of her heart.
The only anxiety reaction we suffered all weekend was the Princess #2’s boyfriend. (More on him later). Hershey walked around, getting pets and a home-made version of doggy ice-cream. (Gelato, really I suppose.)
If you need a recipe on that, it is easy. a cup of peanut butter, 32 ounces of plain Greek yogurt (slightly less than 1-liter, or litre if you prefer.) tablespoon of local honey and a large banana. Blend for a minute (You may have to take a scraper to the inside of the blender to get the peanut butter to mix properly. I do. but I don’t have the best blender in the world by any stretch of the imagination and peanut butter (or peanut paste, if you prefer, I like mine chunky) then pour into small containers with a lid, freeze and then when you like, pop the top, hand the whole container to the dog and it will be a wonderful frozen treat for a few minutes.
Mind you, if you have any children wandering about and they discover this concoction? Dogs will be out of luck! This stuff is tasty! It is healthy, quick, and it is human quality food. Good for everyone and a great treat. No chemicals, no artificial this or that. Good stuff. I’ll consider that a rave, heh.
So now we have had a good weekend, but like all good — or bad– things. It comes to an end in about 2 hours. Back to the heat, misery and daily dust of life.
To idiots that shoot off large bottle rockets over the house (and terrify the chocolab who tries to be anywhere but there, top of my head is one spot that seems to be a favored place). I am tempted to go out with a blunt arrow and stand in the dark. Wait until the said idiots to the fuse to the bottle rocket and then I shoot the rocket and tip it over. No one will see the black arrow and life would get REAL exciting for a moment. or three. But as Princess #1 did say, there is no telling where it might go, including into someone’s open window of their house – or car. And a live firework bursting inside a car as it drives down the road is ALL bad. So I won’t.
Nice to dream of though.
Princess #2’s boyfriend.
Nice fellow, tries constantly to impress me, but it’s not working all the time. I do give him points for trying. I put him on BBQ duty the other night and he did a good job.
His only malfunction on this trip – He is a desert cat. From Oklahoma, his idea of a body of water is he can see all sides to it. The Pacific ocean is unnerving. He is desert, we are beach and ocean oriented family.
Waves bother him. We went to lunch on a wharf, the waves hitting the pilings underneath were bad. The cars driving over the wood of the wharf was bad, Seafood everywhere – well he likes shrimp, but is allergic to the food.
So he asked to go home. Princess #2 is not an overly warm-blooded person, but loves the beach, rolled her eyes some. But, he is her boyfriend and she took him on the 300 mile journey back. She thinks the Great Barrier Reef is cold water diving and did not swim much. She hung out on the boat. But..she was only ten years old at the time. (Princess #1? Pfft.. she would swim in the ocean if there was ice in close proximity, she goes in, never comes out.)
So now, we sit on the sofa, the clock ticking down to the end of this cool morning. Slightly overcast with the marine layer in (Another unnerving thing the boyfriend experienced. I likened it to the tides of the ocean, which was a mistake. another reason he headed back to the dry and heat)
The home journey awaits. Back to a noisy, dusty, miserable place where sirens sound hourly – or more often – and is generally just a stressful place to be living. I have two plants I need to replace, I forgot to bring them in out of the heat and they have been sitting without water for the last 96 hours. Rosemary is hardy, but not sure it can tolerate that. Basil? Well, dried basil is useful. As is rosemary.
And I promise, no black arrows into bottle rockets doing the final countdown.
Three-hundred miles, two dogs, a queen and a princess. The dogs have a habit of standing on the one human in the back seat, even though I had rolled down the opposite side window away from her. So, over a hundred pounds, eight legs and two drooling faces the poor human has to put up with while we hurtle down the highway at speeds that turn drool into a fine mist and I hear the young woman moan and mumble “Yuck!” “Ooog, blech! Ack!”.
Temperatures of 105F on the road, not a tree as far as the eye can see. Not even cows! Princess #1 declared it “the badlands” because of dead grass no higher than the palm of your hand. No trees that you could hit with the most powerful of rifles (Artillery or rockets would be cheating). Hershey began to have a meltdown, panting and whining. We finally got a stop when we crossed over the line from 105 that dropped to 65F in less than a half-hour.
Hershey finally released from the car? And had (Along with her adoptive sister Honey and Persephone) to do what dogs do after being cooped up for so long.
She urinated like a water-balloon at its limit.
The chocolab did not even stop walking, she left a wet line that a firefighting aircraft would have been proud of.
She could have filled a small child’s pool! lol. I guess that is why she was so anxious in the car. Lol.
We finally arrived in Santa Barbara and went for a walk, this is a town in need of a little dog water, per Hershey, Honey and Persephone. The last two are part camel, but they can also make enough water to cure the drought in two days.
I also found that a large fraction of the yards and businesses in Santa Barbara have rosemary growing wild in gardens, whole fences are covered with rosemary.
Sage! Sage I found in a dozen places. WOW! Tomorrow I am going to buy …I dunno what, my mind dances with the idea, but I can make a rosemary/garlic/sage chicken, grilled over open fire. and the sage and rosemary I might pick myself!
There are date-palms with bunches of dates in reach. I have never used dates in cooking and not sure how, but I bet I can make something, like a glaze for another protein? Or, over carrots?
If I can figure out where to harvest wild garlic that does not need me digging up public property or someone’s private garden, I might. But I think I might just buy that.
But we are tucked away, far away, from firecrackers and booms. The 4th I hope will be easy on a dog that holds no ill will on anyone.
Well, except for the occasional house fly that comes within reach.
Tomorrow, and maybe Sunday, we will take her to the ocean to play in the waves. Then hide before the sun goes down at the house and cook the Rosemary Sage Garlic chicken and fire-roasted asparagus and corn.
Mmm.. anyone wanna come to the West Coast tomorrow?
Some years ago, the movie “Home Alone” hit the theaters, a lone boy did have panic events, bad-guys and adapted to the situation.
Tonight, such Hollywood adventures and good endings are not possible. A date night with a stage play and dogs (Count them, TWO) are left home to defend the house and home.
Honey, the honey (or sand-tan) colored dog, is large, powerful and quite laid back. Sudden noises can get her to flinch, knocks on doors get her to bark. Thunder, firecrackers, fireworks, meh, not so much. The sudden large roll of thunder might get her to raise her head, but that is about all you get out of her.
The chocolate lab, on the other hand. Not so laid back. She hates the electronic bug zapper, firecrackers in the distance are just wrong.
Thunder? No. Just no.
Tonight, we head out to see a stage play of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”, take in a dinner and sit through the long (two intermissions!) production with a total of four actors.
A pleasant Saturday night comes to a close, on our arrival home, we find one of the french doors to the great-room all but destroyed. The door jam is pulled away from the wall, the molding around the doorway has been chewed down and torn. Wood. Torn.
Torn? Big danged splinters torn off, I could fit four fingers in the gap.
Paint is torn away from the wood as if a rough file had been run over it. Not fresh paint, either! This took some work.
What the heck? Who did this?
Looking at the big dog first, she was first suspect, by all the family, until I pointed out that the kind of damage on the door took time. A lot of time.
And fear. Something lit off a dog.
“Perhaps a knock at the door?”
No, not enough, they would bark and reset after a minute or two, this took time.
So now, the suspect is the smaller chocolate lab, who has a panic issue. We are coming to the 4th of July and explosives — which are not legal in the area — are a nightly event.
I think a deep panic set in, the cats aren’t talking, but they point little furry fingers at the dark brown one and whisper: “that bitch is crazy.”
Tomorrow, the door is on the list for repaires. I may have to take it down and begin to prepare it for paint.
No fun to come home to that kind of damage. But she stresses beyond reason when the pops are close- full fledged beyond sanity panic.
Some (four-legged) kids you can’t leave home without drugging them. I hate thinking that, or alternately, she cannot be left alone. She needs a human to stay with.
Over the 4th of July, we are taking off to a remote area that is 1. dog friendly and 2. having stayed before, they do not do fireworks, only down at the beach. We stay far away from the beach, hiding in an air-conditioned hotel room with thick walls, after we run her to the point of exhaustion on the beach and in the surf.
That is the plan of action, we will still suffer the tail end of the fireworks for another month to come. But the worst of it will be avoided.
How was your night?
Chapter 37. Return of Kolo
His fourth straight ace on the written tests, Eva also had begun to dance in the shadows of the library, making Summer laugh against her will.
The evening rides were more complex as Eva and Jona prepared for the upcoming spring race. Long rides, through the mountain canyons of the volcanic places in the world.
One morning, after they had studied in the library, Summer smiled and acted as if she wanted to ask something while they studied, debated and joked with each other while they studied human and dragon art history.
Finally, Summer asked the question that burned in her heart.
“Can I ride with you sometime?” She asked while looking down.
Jona and Eva exchanged looks and nodded.
“Yes! We’d be happy to do it.” Eva smiled. “I owe you a lot of rides for the help you have given us to put us back on the team.”
Summer laughed nervously.
The three of the friends walked down to the meadow, chatting as they walked. Summer Set told a joke with a pun in the twisted end. `
Laughing, they stopped by the cave of riders and fliers. Jona and Summer put on goggles and flight helmet. She laughed at herself when she looked in a mirror.
“You really wear these?”
“Yeah, we do. Imagine being hit in the face with a bug at the speeds that Eva uses when she flies around trees and such.”
“Oh.” She backed up a step when Jona clipped on his armor and leather vest.
“Not to worry, I always wear this, it is team colors and shows my awards.”
“I want to know what all these rivets are for.” She smiled and ran her fingers over the decorated, embossed metal studs.
“Training, Distance. Personal best” He went down the different leather panels and studs. “I don’t have any of the good ones of gold or gems. I have only raced house races, first-year students don’t race between schools. Only houses. So far, we have won as a team, lost a few individual competitions. Eva has not lost anything.” Jona smiled as he walked up to Summer and laced the leather strap under her chin. “Keep this snug. If it blows off, you won’t be able to look around.
They walked out of the rider’s ready room where Eva sat with her own helmet.
Even Jona laughed.
“Feeling cautious?” He said to the other half of his race team.
“Yes,” Eva said. “We have some rides that like to get physical flying around today. I’m not worried, but if we get a little bumpy, I want to be ready.”
“Um…” Summer looked alarmed. “Should I be worried?”
“No, we will stay slow and close.” Eva answered. “You will have a good time. Have you ever seen the ocean beach from above?”
“But that is so far!” Summer gasped, her eyes wide behind the goggles.
“Eva can make it to the beach and back in less time than it takes you to look up books and sit down for a read.” Jona grinned.
“Wow. Even my brother doesn’t go that fast, and he is a skimmer.” Summer boggled.
“Skimmer?” Jona asked.
“Skimmers are between swimmers and fliers.” Eva answered, Summer nodding. “They barely touch the water, leaping across and gliding on a cushion of air. It is a rare talent.”
“Climb up!” Jona showed Summer where she could hold on to Eva’s scales.
“Hold on to something tight!” Eva said, looking around.
A push-off and her wings extended, with two flaps they were airborne.
Summer squealed with glee that Jona first took as alarm.
Banking around the canyons slowly, Summer looked down and held on so tight, Jona saw her knuckles blanch.
Out over the canyon, the three friends flew, ride and rider with a guest.
Swiftly they descended from the high mountain range to the lowlands.
Summer gasped when Eva flew over a cliff and the white-capped waters of the breaking waves filled her view of white sand beaches as far as she could see.
Slow enough for a walk, Eva smiled and used the wind coming off the ocean for lift, barely twitching a wingtip.
The great wings of the dragon lifted them up while she took them back to the meadow. Snow showed below them and Summer turned to Jona, complaining her nose was getting cold when Eva settled and landed.
“Hello Jona.” A familiar voice sounded behind him when he helped Summer off Eva’s saddle.
Holding out a dark and sweetened confection, her favorite treat, the sparkling eyes that made Jona laugh like he was a child during the weeks of bonfire lit up his life.
Kolo had returned.
Clouds float overhead in the dark of the night
Alone, as the minutes pass
he has been here before.
drink in hand
a walk in the sand.
The ring of fire is his path
among the rocks lovers chase
they wear rings
shimmering in the moonlight
a swallow taken
Married by mistake?
a wish for luck
The beach is as long as their future
a glass raised in honor
A toast to beginnings
the old man walks on
to the end of his path
XVIII. The veil of Vale
Jona walked into the courtyard, Professor Vale was once again shifted his shape to a smaller dragon, basking in a shaft of sunlight that glistened off his ruby scales.
“Professor? I would like to ask a few things.” Jona asked, his head full of questions on what he had just seen. How much was history, how much was fiction and how much was truth.
“Yes, Jona, speak your mind.” The Old dragon looked at him with good humor, he liked Jona it pleased the professor to help or answer any questions.
“Professor Koos was lecturing me on lore and law, gave me a view of some lore.” You were once human and had to change into a dragon to save your wife?”
Vale nodded, “Yes, no one bothers to ask me, but the one time that the historians did, they used the crystal to record what had happened. The lady with gray and red hair that assists me now and again?”
“Yes, professor, she is you wife?” Jona asked.
Professor Vale looked at Jona for a second and continued while clearing his throat, “Well, now we know you have attended “Obvious Recognition 101″ at one time or another, what I was going to say, she has spent many years looking for the single spell I used. Rumor has it that I cannot speak the spell due to magic, but the only magic was that I could not speak any human speech at first and by the time I was able to, the spell I thought I used was incorrect.” Vale sighed, “So now she uses her knowledge of magic to stay young as possible, she ages about one year for every one hundred.”
Jona stopped and thought for a moment. “The story I saw from the crystal showed you and her as a young couple.”
“Indeed,” Vale nodded, “We had not yet started a family, no children. In fact it took me years to learn how to change size, I can do a little shape change now, but I am always dragon.”
Doing the math at first, “The story then is very long ago.” Then adding, “You had children since then?”
Vale nodded “Yes, it was long before the current history, many years have passed. She was only twenty-two summers old and beautiful as a sunrise on a snowy day.” then nodding again, “We had a number of children that have had both qualities of the race of dragon and man. Kolo and Kola are both related to me, although many times removed, twenty-five generations or so.”
“My friend Kolo and her brother?” Jona asked
“Yes, not all dragons lay eggs, depending on the clans or branch of the family tree.” Nodded the Professor.
“This is my break time,” the professor said, sitting up. “but as you want to learn, let’s go to the master room of the Garnet House. Climb aboard.” Vale said as he swelled in size, a four-winged dragon as he changed size, Jona climbed on his back into the saddle area– that was not fully developed as in the racer dragons, but then, Vale was a much older dragon and racing had not been a sport back then.
At the top of Professor’s aerie. There was stone tables of granite and soapstone of verdigris color, with a full view in all directions, Jona gaped at out the lead glass windows, mountainous peaks from all his view were magnificent.
“Dragons are family oriented, mothers are as protective as any human parent. Old stories of virgin sacrifices were simply overstated and elaborately told stories of rogue drakes that were just like any
other being on this earth with prejudices and hatred to others. Some were equal opportunity hate mongers. Ultimately, the councils of dragons gathered and the first peaceful meetings with humans happened.” Vale opened a very wide scroll as it lay over a wide table of intricately carved soapstone. “The first meetings you see marked here on the time line were with the Pirate High Council, perhaps the most free and dangerous group of humans to empire or govern.”
“Pirates? Robbers of the sea, correct?” Jona asked, he knew the stories of the seagoing raiders. “They come ashore, burn and pillage. I have had teachings of such things.”
Vale nodded, “In the most basic sense, they are barbarians and robbers, those are the ones you hear about that are the most unskilled at the bottom of the pirate food chain. They are not they pirates that were here. The pirates that put on the show are those that live outside of the government’s influence and do not pay taxes to an entity that gives diminishing returns. Instead, they donate funds, goods and services when they wish. This is outside of the control of government– another irksome thing for those that desire power above all. They call these men and women pirates as a result, it is easier to prosecute a ban on trading with the people.”
Vale continued, “These are the people in the early days the dragon councils met. It was the pirates that suggested a school, first for just dragons to learn, but then to bring forward a school for teaching the teachers. This is why you are here. A teacher must understand the relationship and be able to teach past the prejudices of both dragon and human. You will be a Master of dragon knowledge to dragons and humans. You will be a Dragon Master, but I digress, you must know what you ask.”
Jona nodded, lost in the history time line as it was laid out before him.
“Dragons live for a very long time, some say forever but that is not the case, they do age and become elderly, but the length of a dragon’s lifespan has not yet been firmly established. No deaths of natural causes as of yet, that have been recorded.’
Vale corrected himself “All but for one, not long after the first peaceful contact with humans there was a dragon named Koshenkpough, a fire dragon. He befriended a human orphan boy when his mother was a victim of a governments abuse of power. His father was a bookmaker and was never around. The child learned much from the dragon and was unable to ever speak his name properly and he nicknamed the dragon, who liked the name and has since been known as “Puff”. Puff was the first Dragon Master to a human, though they did not have the title at the time.”
Jona nodded, “I saw a column with the name of Puff on it. I wondered why such a strange name for a Dragon. So it was a nickname?”
“History is known for renaming people and dragons,” Vale nodded, “Places and events that did not reflect the real names at the time. Let’s continue. Dragons, and although I am one, I am human inside by thought and feeling, but after living as a dragon for so many years, I have learned a few things.” Vale smiled, “One of which as you know I can change size, but not quite shape or I’d be human in a heartbeat.” Vale chuckled. “It would make sitting by the fireplace with RedNova– that’s my wife’s name– Possible. Or go visit her father.”
“He is still alive?” Jona asked.
“Yeah, he is REALLY old.” Vale winked. “He is studying spells for all this time to break what I cast that day.”
“Wow, there is so much more to the world.” Jona was looking over the scroll and the time line that was drawn upon it.
“More than you know now, even.” Vale nodded. “Dragons have developed close ties with humans over the years. The biggest heartbreak that any of them have is that, although dragons live forever, humans do not. Remember Puff and his human friend, the boy grew up and left to live his human life in time, Puff returned to his cave. Some say Puff was the boy’s mother who had been transfigured, somehow, like I have been. Others say that Puff changed his name and just disappeared into the crowds and might be among us today. We have never established what happened.”
“So if, say a human and dragon were married, they could raise a family?” Jona asked.
“With the right kind of healer and medicine, yes. It might be odd for both of them as the offspring are usually a blend of traits. The curiosity and inventive nature of the human side, the long life and learning capacity of the dragon, occasionally there are different results, some good, and some — well to say evil might be too harsh, but the outcome has been…” Vale paused, “Unfortunate.”
“What is this notation here about vampires and lycan?” Jona asked while reading small print on a time line.
“That, my young protegé, is for later studies. Just keep in mind, any mix of dragons and the other two is fraught with disaster. Already between lycan and vampire exists a war as the two are diametrically opposed.” Tracing his crimson colored hand down the page, ” Here, lists how clans of dragons exist. Some indicate live births, others the day they have had eggs hatch. No one is to say which is better, but smaller dragons tend to have live births and the laying of clutches of eggs seemingly is on the wane over the years. It seems to make a stronger bond to the parent-child relationship in the dragons.”
“How many clans are there?” Jona asked as he traced his finger over the parchment.
“How many clans are there in humans? No one knows.” Vale chuckled. “It has only the main course of history, this does not detail clans and the branches. That would be like trying to follow a drop of water in an ocean.”
“Why do humans hunt dragons?” Jona asked, “Seems that it would be better if the two races would work together.”
“It is the same way on both sides,” Professor Vale nodded grimly. “A few make it impossible for the many. That is why you are here at the school, to help survival of both.”
Jona tingled with the thought of that. A huge responsibility, but a lot to learn still.
“Thank you Professor, I have a lot to learn.”
“Homework, Jona, without it, your grades will not improve.”
“Yes, sir. And I need to practice with Eva on racing, we are working out in a full team race, four of us are doing the course today.”
“Good luck, Jona, do not fall off.” Vale smiled softly.
Radio transmission on shore after the military radar had detected the contact:
Captain Michael Monroe made his report to the base. “Contact made. Illegal threat neutralized. No spread of infection or contamination. End of report.”
Rear Admiral Shyldon Gillette, Commander of the Royal Australian Border Protection Command read the electronic report out loud and turned towards a shadow in the corner with red eyes glimmering in the dark.
“The secret remains safe, my Lord, the operation will be able to continue to relocate the human blood sources into the feeding reservations.”
“Excellent. Keep the fear up. Any human that finds clues to the real source of the undead slaves, kill them. The living cannot know what is happening until the world is under our control.” The lips of Lord Maldark’s ghostly face barely moved to create a voice that sounded like it came from the depths of a muddy tomb. “Tell the lower caste to increase the numbers of the risen and to drive herds of the food towards the reservations, do not give them a chance to contemplate their position in the food-chain. That is key to our success.”
“Yes, my Lord.”
The face that appeared to float in the shadow twisted unnaturally into a grin, long fangs glittered like glass in the subdued light, but the admiral was under the ancient one’s control now and was no longer afraid as he was the first night. That night, over a month ago.
Out on the water near the sunken Calliope, a plastic sandwich bag floated on the water stuffed with two gently cut locks and five hastily pulled blood-red strands of hair sealed inside.
Together the hairs drifted towards the land of Oz in the prevailing current with wreckage from the destroyed yacht.
An odd-shaped bow made of exotic woods float on the wreckage drift behind bag of saved hair. Lifted clear of the water on a small raft of floating wreckage, it sat securely on the quiver of arrows as the land grew closer with each passing moment.
10. Ocean and Freedom
The Calliope gathered speed, passing ten-knots and they turned south. Following the shore with the land on the right, they sailed into the gathering darkness.
Captain Roberts sat back and sighed contentedly.
“We are clear. Radar shows us with no traffic near and sonar shows that the water depth is increasing nicely. We are in the channel.” The Captain nodded. “Now… I have something to celebrate our escape.”
Hopping off his seat Captain A. J. Roberts opened up a trunk he had lugged from Maribella without a word on what he had inside.
Bottles and bottles of exotic liquors. The largest of which he pulled up.
“RHUM!” He laughed. “All the way from the Caribbean! I bet you have not seen the likes.”
The Archer laughed.
“Actually,” Archer said softly to Rachel, “I have drunk that brand for years.”
Rachel laughed. “I have a bottle of that in my house now.”
The drinking went on for some minutes, The Archer was working on his second cup over ice to the Captains third. The two were seemingly getting into a race.
Suddenly the radio crackled and the Captain choked on his fourth cup of the dark liquor.
“Emergency channel is working! Huzzah!” He grabbed the microphone and called.
“Emergency caller, this is the Calliope out of Brisbane bound for Sydney. Go ahead with your traffic.”
“This is Royal Australian Navy Destroyer Guardsman. Reverse your direction and return the way you came.”
“Negative, Guardsman, we are out of Brisbane, all on board are healthy and are seeking asylum from the chaos of the area.”
“Calliope, this is your last warning, the quarantine now extends to Brisbane, come about now and return to your point of departure.”
“Guardsman, we have women and children on board, we cannot return. Do you wish to condemn them to deal with the collapse of government there?”
“This is Captain Monroe of the RAS Guardsman. Calliope, please reverse your course, I do not wish to fire upon you. Heave to and prepare to be boarded.”
“We are making our way to Sydney. Board us there.” The Captain Roberts replied to Captain Monroe.
“Heave to, or we will fire.”
“Captain.” The Archer was looking out a window. “We have a problem.”
In the air, a heavily armed helicopter suddenly lit up with navigation lights in the failing twilight of the coming evening. Already airborne, missile pods were visible on the sides of the rotary-winged gunship.
Captain Roberts looked out.
“Oh f’kn’ bloody brass nuts.” The Captain said loudly. “If you folks believe in a hell, you might wish to call ‘em an’ ask if they have exchange programs, it is about to become worse than that here. Guardsman is a Hobart Class ship, that there bird be one o’ its hammers.”
“What are those?” Stormy asked as two, then four pinpoint lights seem to move towards them from a mile out.
“Archer?” Andrea asked, pointing out at what Stormy saw.
“Incoming! They’ve opened fire!” The Archer yelled. He reached down to his quiver and pulled out a rolled up plastic bag. Holding two locks of hair close to his heart, he watched the missiles track towards them at unimaginable speed.
“I”m sorry.” He whispered to the last remains of his family as he dropped the baggie over the rail of the yacht. “I’m so sorry I failed.”
“OUT! Abandon ship!” Al was like a bull shoving everyone he could reach towards the railing. The only time in his life he used his hand to hand training to shove a group.
“Abort! ABORT! Do not fire! ABORT! ABORTABORT! We are…” The Captain screamed into the microphone.
It was his last conscious thought as the missiles impacted into the bridge of the Calliope. High explosive warheads sent shockwaves through the vessel. Compressed air heated to thousands of degrees shattered doors and bulkheads as the yacht disappeared in a fireball of continuing weapons fire as the helicopter crew their weapons repeatedly into the remains of the Calliope.
Only after the shattered, burning hull slipped beneath the surface of the water did the gunship return to the Guardsman while the haze and smoke slowly dissipated.
There would be no rescue boats launched as the Guardsman followed orders to set course back to its assigned patrol.