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Excerpt for my new book Escape from the Mamluk Empire

As they continued their hunting trips, the stags moved lower onto the plains below the cave entrance. This morning, fresh snow had fallen the night before.

“The Stags will move today to find other sources of food. Let’s hope today will be a good day of hunting.” said Christopher.

As they set out for a day of hunting, Natalie was in the fighting positions for the day watch. When she saw Bryan and Christopher leave the cave she radioed, “There’s a small herd moving from the west to the east along the road to the fruit trees. They are a good 17 kilometers from them.”

“Roger, we’re taking a truck to beat them to the fruit trees.” said Christopher.

Bryan and Christopher jumped into a truck and headed to the fruits trees some fifteen kilometers away. When they reached the house, they parked the truck on the eastside to prevent it from being seen.

Christopher radioed, “Where is the herd now?” 

“They’re still walking on the road about 10 kilometers away, they are still at their same pace.”

“Bryan, let’s take a position 50 meters to the south to be perpendicular to the herd as the walk down the road. We’ll have a better angle to pick our targets.”

As they moved into position, the herd continued down the road. When the herd was within range, Christopher whispered to Bryan. “Call your target, we need to shoot at the same time.”

“I have the stag at the front of the herd.”

“Good, I will take the one walking in the middle. On the count of three. One, two, three.”

The two shots rang out as one, dropping two large stags immediately. Christopher took aim once again as the herd sped off. At 300 meters, at a full run, he dropped another stag.

Bryan amazed at Christopher’s aim, “Where did you learn to shoot like that?”

“I’ve had plenty of practice shooting at fast moving targets. You get the truck and I’ll get to our kills. We’ll get the farthest one away first.”

Bryan slung his hunting rifle and ran to the truck. By the time Christopher reached the last stag, Bryan was pulling up.

“Let’s load all three in the truck. We can dress them at the house.”

As they were loading the second stag, the radio crackled, “There are two mobiles moving toward you. They are having a hard time getting through the snow.” said Natalie.

Christopher radioed, “Roger, how much time do we have?”

“They’re moving slowly, you have fifteen minutes before they reach the fruit trees.”

“Roger, we have one more to retrieve and then we are heading to your position. Do you have your sniper rifle in your fighting position with you?”

“I carry it like I use to a purse. It’s always with me.”

“If they follow us, you may need to eliminate one or both of the mobile drivers and stay low.”

“Roger.”

Christopher and Bryan quickly loaded the third kill in the truck and headed to the cave. As Bryan sped to the cave, Christopher radioed, “Are they following us up the mountainside?”

“No, their mobiles are stuck in the snow 200 meters from the fruits trees. I think they ran off the road. Wait, they are getting out of their mobiles.”

“How many are there and what weapons do they have?”

“It’s a man and a woman. There’s a small child with them in a child seat in the back of the second mobile. I can’t see any weapons yet.”

“Is there anyone chasing them from a distance?”

“No, the road is empty as far as I can see on both sides of the mountain.”

“Get to your truck. When we get there, we will go back to see if we can help them, but I want the three of us there with weapons just in case. Have our helmets, vest and small arms ready by the time we get back. Have Bud and Claudia take the watch from inside. They can keep us posted while we are helping the family.”

“Roger, heading there now.”

When Christopher and Bryan arrived, Natalie was standing in the bed of her truck watching the family moving toward the house with the fruit trees. Christopher and Bryan jumped out of their truck and quickly donned their helmet, vest and small arms gear. Soon the three sped back to the stranded family. When the man and woman saw the truck speeding toward them, they ran back to their mobiles.

“When we reach the family, stay behind the doors pistols only and keep them low. I will approach them to let them know we are friendly. If they draw weapons, you know what to do.”

They stopped the truck five meters for the mobiles. As the doors opened Natalie and Bryan assumed their defensive positions, Christopher walked slowly to the mobiles.

His rifle slung with his hands in the air to show them he meant them no harm. When Christopher was a meter from the mobiles two doors opened rapidly with the man and woman firing a pistol and a shotgun. Christopher dropped and rolled behind a mobile as Bryan and Natalie neutralized the threat. After the sound of gunfire subsided, only the cries of a small four-month-old girl could be heard.

Christopher jumped up to check the status of the man and woman. They were dead. Natalie had the girl in her arms covered in blood.

“Is she shot?” asked Christopher.

“No, it’s her mother’s blood. Why did they fire on us?” asked Natalie as tears welled up in her eyes.

Christopher hugged Natalie, “Honey. Those people were scared and desperate. Desperate people always make the wrong moves. We did nothing wrong, we only defended ourselves. Get the little one in the truck and keep her warm. Bryan and I will search the mobiles and then burn them.”

As Natalie tended to the little girl, Christopher and Bryan searched the mobiles to find another shotgun and two more pistols and a hundred rounds of ammunition for each. Bryan also found clothes and toys for the little girl. Bryan put the weapons with the girl’s clothes and toys in the truck while Christopher put the bodies in the mobiles and set them on fire. As they headed to the house, Christopher watched in the side mirror as the flames fully engulfed the two mobiles. As they were getting out of the truck Sylvia ran outside to meet them, I heard gunfire are you three alright. Christopher hugged Sylvia, then told her the story of the encounter. As Christopher was finishing the story Natalie, tears running down her cheeks, came to them holding the blood drenched little girl.

“Is she hurt?” asked Sylvia.

“No, she just needs cleaning up and a good meal.” said Natalie.

“Let’s take her inside Natalie and get her cleaned up and fed.” said Sylvia.

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Is Kindness Lost?

In this new culture we find ourselves, I wonder, is kindness lost? The pressing thought for everyone to me seems they’re trying to play a victim. “Your words offend me.”
Is all one will say with no explanation how or why they’re offended. If someone speaks their views on a subject, another will try to cancel that person’s view with the phrase, “Your words offend me.”

What they mean is your words have no significance because as an individual or a group they are offended, so, if someone wants to exert their view, or will over another, all they need do is to be offended.

Victimhood is short-lived. It will soon turn on you and cast you as a person of hate. If everyone offends you, then you hate everyone. Not a pleasant state of mind.

Kindness however is never wasted. Kindness gives rather than takes and thus produces a far better result. It can lead to the pay it forward, concept. Here a kindness is repaid repeatedly, perpetuating a constant return on investment. When you commit an act of kindness, it benefits you and the person to whom you extend the kindness. You both feel a spirit of wonderful work and restored as a person. Being offended at everything only benefits the hater.

So you have a choice. You can be a hater and live a life of strife and pain, or you can be one who offers kindness and hope. It’s your choice.

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Free Will

No free will is not a movie about a killer whale and a young boy, free will is the ability to determine your our destiny, to choose your own way of life. Free will is the ultimate expression of love and your willingness to sacrifice yourself in the service of others.

Free will allows us to reason for or against how we choose to work, play and love. It gives us determination, compassion and inspiration separating us from all other animal species on the planet Earth. If free will, as self determination, is removed then all other motivations will fall by the wayside, but since our creator gave us free will, can it be taken away or thwarted. We have seen Civil Wars on the planet of others to wanting exert their free will. In the United States. We saw the Revolutionary War to free us from what we considered a tyrannical King and then again in our Civil War to free us from our mistakes.

There is power in free will that cannot be suppressed forever, although many have tried through starvation and imprisonment. Free will is given to us by our creator to self determine our lives and for our creator to see if we indeed love him, because free will allows us not to.

Don’t give anyone the privilege of taking your free will. It is a gift.

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A Mother’s Love is Blind!

Have you ever heard the adage, “A Mother’s Love is blind?” In those five words lies the true meaning of love. No matter the actions they commit, the disability they have or the physical scars of life they bear, a mother’s love to stay true.

Mothers hold a very special place in the hearts of their children, or at least should. If they only knew the sacrifices mothers had to bear to bring them to life. The tortuous nine months, the pain of birth and the emotional hardship placed on a mother while their children mature into adults. But it doesn’t stop there. Mothers continue to worry and fret for their children until their death.

My youngest daughter who has two children of her own has called her mother many times after her first child came into this world, “Mom, I’m so sorry for all the trouble I caused you.”

Mothers are very special. If your mother is alive, please talk to her regularly. If your mother is no longer here for you to be with talk to her regularly, it will do you and her memory a lot of good.

Thanks Mom!

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Brawn or Brain?

Do you use your brawn or do you use your brain first? A simple question, but not easily answered. Many of us when we face controversy or a problem in life we more often than not use or brawn rather than our brain first.

In the Aesop Fable, “The Crow & the Pitcher”, the crow tries to use his brawn to extract water from a tall narrow pitcher. After wasting his time and energy, he turns to his brain. After deep thought he devised a plan to get the water without spilling it onto the dry ground, by putting pebbles in the pitcher to bring the water to the top for him to drink. Smart crow, or is he?

While he devised a workable plan to drink the needed water. He could have enjoyed it much sooner if he had engaged his brain before his brawn. Are you wasting time and energy? Do you subscribe to the adage, “I’ll read the instructions after all else fails.”

When faced with problems in life, think before you act. Always ask yourself the question, “How can this be solved with the least amount of effort.”

The creed of a lazy person or an efficient one?

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Bending to the Wind?

One of Aesop’s fables I really enjoy is the one about the Oak and the Reeds. This fable address how a stubborn and closed mind can lead to ruin. In this analogy, stubbornness is the oak standing tall, never wavering for its views. Here the reed represents open mindedness and a powerful belief system that allows them to listen to other’s thoughts and opinions unlike the oak. The tempest in our analogy is the difference of opinions and ideologies.

The oak boosted of his might of mind and physical strength, while ridiculing the reeds for their weakness and bowing to even the slightest breeze. Controversy here represented by the wind in Aesop’s fable grew more and more intense. As the reeds bowed to the wind, the mighty oak resisted, only to be ripped up by its roots and lying among the pitying reeds.

In life, the stubborn oak does not listen to reason or heed advice. It is of its own mindset and it will not change even to its eventual destruction. While the reeds are of the mindset, every opinion has value and should be respected no matter how trifle, they don’t compromise on their core beliefs, but remain open to reason and the advice of others. 

In our life, we’re presented with many tempest or storms as controversy and life’s situation thrown our way every day. Listen to reason and consider the advice of others, but never give up your core beliefs, your roots in this analogy. Your roots keep you grounded. Consider your friends and family’s advice and never turn down an opportunity to hear the other side of the story. With a strong belief in individual freedoms, free speech cuts through ignorance. 

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Questions?

I’ve been receiving many inquiries about having guest bloggers or if individuals to could contribute to this blog. When I try to answer them their email comes back as undeliverable. While I would welcome such input to the blog site if you want me to answer your questions I need a valid email to return my answer. I love hearing your comments about my articles and the blog site in general. Just please use a valid email address.

As to having discussions on the site, I will look into it and see if that is possible. I would thoroughly enjoy discussions about any blog posting. I am always looking for different ways to approach the same subject. As soon as I find out any information I will post it here. Keep checking in.

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Too Steamy for SCI-FI

Again that night, after tucking Bud and Claudia into bed Sylvia brought a bottle of wine and two glasses to the couch in the front room and poured each a glass. As Sylvia snuggled close to Christopher, “We can only do this for a little while.”

“Am I not playing my cards right?”

“Your card playing is masterful to this point, but we only have 183 bottles of wine stored in the back of the cave.”

“I guess I need to go to the library and get us a few books on how to make wine at home.”

You don’t need to do that. I used to make wine when I lived in the city. It was easy to make and I made it the way I liked it. All we need is the grapes.”

There was a grape harbor behind Bud’s old house if I remember correctly. Bryan and I will check it out in the morning when we are planting the trees. It may be too late in the season for grapes this year but we can have them next spring. Are we doing well on the grain alcohol?”

We have enough grain alcohol to last until Bud is old enough to drink. Remember you telling me it would be good for medicinal purposes?”

Oh, yes I do remember. Well, if the wine runs out we can always bring a bottle of whiskey to the couch.”

Sylvia slapped him on the chest, “Or maybe not.”

“Hey, I was just saying. Maybe if I get you drunk I can take advantage of you.”

Sylvia set up and looked at Christopher, “You want to get me drunk and take advantage of me?”

“When you put it that way it doesn’t sound as good of an idea as it was in my mind. What I wanted to say was I’m falling in love with you Sylvia and I want to be with you. “

Sylvia jumped up from the couch and headed toward her room. As she reached the hall to the bedrooms she looked back at Christopher with his head in his hands. Then is a low sexy voice, “Are you wanting that fashion show or not? It starts in 10 minutes in my room. You better not be late. You just drew into an ace high royal flush and I’m all in.”

“I’ll be there standing tall in nine minutes.”

“You better be well rested, you may need to be at attention for a long time tonight.”

Christopher showed and shaved in under eight minutes and was at Sylvia’s door lightly tapping in nine. He heard Sylvia invite him in. When he opened Sylvia’s door she was standing by her bed in a black see through night grown. As Christopher’s eyes were taking in the view she asked, “Do you like it? I picked it out when we were at the mall in hopes of such a night.”

“I love it and you Sylvia.”

Sylvia then took off the night gown and laid it in her chair, “See it even matches the furniture.”

“It matches lovely.”

Sylvia then went to Christopher, “I think you are over dressed for the occasion. Let me help you out of these pajamas.

Sylvia unbuttoned the pajamas one button at a time. As she unbuttoned his shirt with one hand she stroked his chest with the other and then ever so gently kissed his chest.  Once she removed his shirt she lowered his pants, “Well soldier you are already at attention.”

Christopher then picked her off her feet and carried her to her bed, “Now my lady let me show you how an officer and a gentleman treat their lady.”

Christopher laid Sylvia on the bed then proceeded to kiss her on the neck, then her shoulder and then to her waiting breast. As he continued down her body kissing every centimeter her back arched with pleasure. When she was ready for Christopher she nestled her hands under his chin and pulled him onto her holding him tighter and tighter with each thrust. Christopher and Sylvia continued to make love until the wee hours of the morning.

The next morning Christopher woke with Sylvia’s head and on his shoulder and her hair long hair draped over his chest. Christopher smiled and then kissed Sylvia on the forehead, “It’s 0600 hours the children will be up soon.”

Sylvia awakens and looked at Christopher, “Good morning soldier. Did you have as good as night as I had?”

“As a matter of fact I had an excellent night.”

“Should we get up or can the children get their own breakfast this morning.”

I hope you don’t mind but I left a note for Natalie letting her and Bryan know we will be getting up late this morning. I asked them to fix Bud and Claudia’s breakfast.”

“Do I mind, of course note? I wish I had thought about leaving a note.”

“Now let’s resume from where you laid me in the bed.”

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Sin or Hate.

I heard a person yesterday say she hated her daughter for living with a guy before they married. I didn’t interject myself into the conversation, however I wondered, did she hate her daughter or did she hate the sin she perceived her daughter was taking part?

In the bible it is said to hate the sin but love the sinner. In the eyes of GOD we sin every day, but in his word we see he loved us so much he sent his only son to be a sacrifice for our sins.

Love to those who sin. You can hate the sin but don’t hate the person. As GOD’s love turned you from sin, so can your love through GOD turn others from sin. Wasn’t it an act of love from someone you knew that brought you to GOD? Don’t deny your act of love from others because you hate the sin you are living in. Love them as GOD does. Who knows, you may save a life, both spiritually and physically.

Think about it, won’t you?

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Carrying You Ass

It was said once upon a time that if you try to please everyone, you will please none. If that is indeed the case then who should you please? Here is some food for thought. If we make a list of those we love most. Would pleasing them be the best course of action? Perhaps here again were may find ourselves pleasing no one.

Let’s define pleasing. The root word please is defined as causing the feeling of happiness, or satisfaction. I believe many people mistake the word pleasing for service. The noun service is defined as the action of helping or doing work for someone.

In the Aesop Fable titled: The Miller, His Son & the Ass is a good example of how trying to please everyone, you please no one. Here’s the story:

One day, a long time ago, an old Miller and his Son were on their way to market with an Ass which they hoped to sell. They drove him very slowly, for they thought they would have a better chance to sell him if they kept him in good condition. As they walked along the highway some travelers laughed loudly at them.

“What foolishness,” cried one, “to walk when they might as well ride. The most stupid of the three is not the one you would expect it to be.”

The Miller did not like to be laughed at, so he told his son to climb up and ride.

They had gone a little farther along the road, when three merchants passed by.

“Oho, what have we here?” they cried. “Respect old age, young man! Get down, and let the old man ride.”

Though the Miller was not tired, he made the boy get down and climbed up himself to ride, just to please the Merchants.

At the next turnstile they overtook some women carrying market baskets loaded with vegetables and other things to sell.

“Look at the old fool,” exclaimed one of them. “Perched on the Ass, while that poor boy has to walk.”

The Miller felt a bit vexed, but to be agreeable he told the Boy to climb up behind him.

They had no sooner started out again than a loud shout went up from another company of people on the road.

“What a crime,” cried one, “to load up a poor dumb beast like that! They look more able to carry the poor creature, than he to carry them.”

“They must be on their way to sell the poor thing’s hide,” said another.

The Miller and his Son quickly scrambled down, and a short time later, the market place was thrown into an uproar as the two came along carrying the Donkey slung from a pole. A great crowd of people ran out to get a closer look at the strange sight.

The Ass did not dislike being carried, but so many people came up to point at him and laugh and shout, that he began to kick and bray, and then, just as they were crossing a bridge, the ropes that held him gave way, and down he tumbled into the river.

The poor Miller now set out sadly for home. By trying to please everybody, he had pleased nobody, and lost his Ass besides.

The Miller should had remembered the old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me.”

Please yourself and serve others

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Is Your Plan Theory or is it Achievable

Yesterday we discussed goals and there need to stretch yourself in education and skill development. Today I would like to continue the discussion on how to implement this goal.

Let’s say, for an example, you have the goal to become a writer. In theory, this goal is a wonderful goal and within the realm of probability. But how do you get there? What do you need to do to reach your goal? Do you know what skills and tools you may need to gain to become a good or even great writer? Will you want to write novels, content for websites, or be a writer of short stories? What do you want to do with your work?
In my journey over the past year, I have found writing was the simplest part of the manuscript process. My initial mistake in learning how to write was like those of so many writers before me. I just wrote what I liked and knew best. Starting out this way was like making something by hand. While there was great personal satisfaction in the finished product it did not sell setting on my shelf at home. I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

The first thing I didn’t know was I wrote my thoughts into words on paper was they were not always cohesive and very difficult to read, let alone understand. I self-published my first book. But I continued my novels. I thought the more books I wrote, the more book sales I would achieve. After five books and halfway through my sixth, I realized other than friends and family my books were not selling. So, I turned to the internet, social media and professional networks to find out what I didn’t know about writing. What I found was there’s much more knowledge needed than just the ability to read and write.

To my surprise, I soon found mentors, published authors whose book’s actually sold, in my social media network prepared to help me understand the writing process. I learned about editing, book cover design, the need of Beta Readers, the importance of a list of book reviewers to get an honest review of your book. Then I learned about the pitfalls of Vanity publishers and the value of book displays and promotion. The moral of the story: Make a plan outlining what you need to do to become what you want to be whether it’s a writer, a nurse, a doctor or even a pilot. Once your plan is done, work the plan.

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Attempting the Impossible.

Do you set goals for your life? Are those goals realistic or are they unattainable? When you set goals for yourself, do you take into consideration your physical and mental capabilities?

These questions all lead to the ultimate question in goal setting. Are you attempting the impossible? For some people this would lead to the response, “It’s possible I could achieve my goal.”

The next question then would be, “While it is possible, is it probable?” Possibilities are infinite, while probabilities are finite.

Goals for like can take many forms in life, but all goals produce happiness and self-confidence. I once heard two totally different responses to the same question. What makes you happy? 

The first person responded, “Making a million dollars a year makes me happy.”

The second person responded, “Waking up each morning and seeing my smiling face in the mirror.”

From these two responses of setting a goal for leading a happy life, which one do you think would be the happiest.

While the million dollars a year salary is possible, it is probable this person will lead an unhappy life because of his attempt at the impossible. On the other extreme, the goal set by this individual is highly probable because of the low threshold he has set for himself. 

Goals need to stretch our boundaries, learning and skill development. A goal for getting out of poverty, for example, while it may seem simple, can prove difficult involving hard work and dedication. Your mind set plays a huge role in goal setting as well. The goals you set require dedication, not your commitment. Here again we get back to the chicken and the pig analogy. While the chicken is committed to providing eggs for breakfast, what is the chicken’s level of dedication to provide those eggs? The pig is totally dedicated to providing bacon to your breakfast. The pig gives the highest level of dedication possible. 

So, when you set goals, or embark to complete a task no matter how small, ask yourself this question, “Are you the chicken or are you the pig.” If your answer is anything other than the pig, you might be attempting the impossible.

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The Law of Nature

The Lion’s Share

A long time ago, the Lion, the Fox, the Jackal, and the Wolf agreed to go hunting together, sharing with each other whatever they found.

One day the Wolf ran down a Stag and immediately called his comrades to divide the spoil.

Without being asked, the Lion placed himself at the head of the feast to do the carving, and, with a great show of fairness, began to count the guests.

“One,” he said, counting on his claws, “that is myself the Lion. Two, that’s the Wolf, three, is the Jackal, and the Fox makes four.”

He then very carefully divided the Stag into four equal parts.

“I am King Lion,” he said, when he had finished, “so of course I get the first part. This next part falls to me because I am the strongest; and this is mine because I am the bravest.”

He now began to glare at the others very savagely. “If any of you have any claim to the part that is left,” he growled, stretching his claws meaningly, “now is the time to speak up.”

The Moral of the Story: Might makes right.

Aesop’s fable the, Lion Share, is a great example of the world we live in. To the powerful go the spoils, the spoils of war, the acquisition of land, and last but not least the privilege to write history in their favor.

This of course is the laws of nature. If it were not so, the species could not survive. In nature the strong is needed to carry on the genetic line.

What does separates us from the animal kingdom is our ability to reason. This reason gives us the ability not necessarily the capability to be benevolent and kind toward others even after conflict.

This reason or to some, free will, allows us to demonstrate our compassion or lack thereof to the human race. How through reason an entire nation can change. This change could be toward benevolence or totalitarianism.

While the law of nature will hold fast, our reason can work complex situations to the betterment of all and not the few or the one. Unlike the lion who only thought of himself.

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Whiskey over the Gums

Growing up in the Midwest, I heard many “old wives’ tales” had been passed down through generations. Home remedies for how to plant a garden. Some were amazingly accurate, others not so much.

They predicted weather. If a cow lays down in the field, it is going to rain. Or, “The sharper the blast, the sooner ‘tis past.” Loud lighting means the storm is moving fast and will pass quickly.  

Advice on how to conceive a boy. If you want to give birth to a boy, eat bananas. Long labor is a sign it’s a boy. You can discover an unborn baby’s gender by tying your ring to a string and hanging it over the pregnant woman’s belly. If it swings in a circle, it’s a boy. If it swings back and forth, it’s a girl.

Acne treatment. Collect the first-morning urine of a pregnant cow. Dab it on the pimples and leave it there for 15 minutes before rinsing. Repeat until pimples are gone. Another similar version involves rubbing a urine-soaked cloth baby diaper on the pimples. My mother liked this one. Put toothpaste on acne spots to help them clear up faster.

The list of old wives’ tales is endless. The one I liked the best was Erma Bombeck’s twist on how to treat tooth aches for teething children. The advice to new mothers was to rub whiskey over the gums. Emma confirmed the accuracy of the tale. “It does really help. After a couple of shots of whiskey passed over my gums, the crying didn’t bother me.

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Compassion

Compassion can be seen in many forms. Compassion toward people, animals, the Earth, your work, family, and for yourself. But not everyone is compassionate. So what sparks compassion?

The one thing I have found in my life which sparks compassion within me is love. A love for people, animals, the Earth, my work, family, and myself all generated by my faith. Faith generates a love that indeed surpasses all understanding. A love where hatred falls away like a fall leaf. A love where jealousy melts away like chocolate on a summer day, as does fear and the lack of self-worth.

Love does indeed conquer all.

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Cry Havoc Excerpts from Chapter 5

The sounds of the ship’s red alert stopped, giving way to an eerie silence throughout the ship. Suddenly the ship’s speakers broke the silence announcing incoming hostile Space Fighters.

“Commander Futu, as soon as we get confirmation the beacons are secure you will be launched to the Locator Beacon closest to the P.E.L.B.” said Bridge.

Futu, already strapped into his machine with all systems green, looked around the hangar deck. He knew everyone would do their job on the asteroid.

“The moment is upon us.” thought Futu.

      “Bridge, the Locator Beacons are secure. Launch Ystavalinen’s squad and the recovery bot.” said Cave.
“Roger, they are deploying now.” said Bridge.

Then it happened. Futu felt the bot trying to free itself from his body. The Battle Channel lit up with chatter. Futu then felt the heat as his bot entered the atmosphere, followed by a bone shaking thud. The crash shutters suddenly opened, revealing the desolate landscape of the asteroid. Futu quickly checked all stabilization, navigation and weapon systems status. All were green, ready to go.

       “The Locator Beacons are secure Futu. Do your thing.” said Cave.

      Then the radio chatter was broken by a transmission from Bridge, “Incoming hostiles to the east of the Locator Beacons.”
 “Ystavalinen, get a perimeter around Futu as soon as possible.” said Cave.

       “Will do. Let’s move squad.” said Ystavalinen.

 “Ystavalinen, Snipers coming over the rise to you left.” said Ruckus.

 “We see them.” said Ystavalinen.

It seemed like only seconds since the warning of hostiles came over the Battle Channel, when bullets, missiles and lasers crisscrossed the horizon like a spider web. Futu knew his mission. Once he positioned himself over the P.E.L.B., he searched the area, probing the sandy surface. Along with the addition of the recovery arm on his bot, he ordered, at Homer’s suggestion, the squadrons’ bots fitted with what resembled a snow shoe that increased its footprint area to allow it to move on top of the sand with ease.

 “A sniper with lasers is coming over the ridge. Anyone with a fast bot? We need to kill that Sniper quickly.” said Ruckus.

“On the way.” said Madman Cazzy.

“Evidently the hostiles were not as prepared for the loose sandy surface. Their bots are marring down in the soft terrain. They have slowed down considerably.” said Cave.

Futu grinned when he heard the enemy bots were bogging down in the sand.

“My grandmother is slow, but she’s old.” said Ruckus.

“This is shooting fish in a barrel.” said Cave.

       “They’re creeping along in the loose sand.”, said Don Gato,

“They can still shoot, so keep your cover.” said Ystavalinen.

As the battle continued, Futu continued searching the sand for the P.E.L.B. Suddenly a metallic sound was heard in the cockpit. Futu closed the claw’s jaws. As he lifted the P.E.L.B. he gave a loud howl. He had found it.

While he was extracting it, a blast from three long-range lasers hit his bot. His instincts told him to jump. Futu followed his instincts and jumped his bot to avoid any further hits.

“Cazzy, where are you? The Sniper on the ridge hit Futu.” said Ruckus.

“The sniper, I just killed?” asked Cazzy.

“Where are you going now?”

       “I’m going to cook me some fish.”

“Let him go. He hasn’t had a ride back to the Hangar Ship in his P.E.L.B. for a while.” said Devilbot.

Futu, after his landing, remembered the P.E.L.B. dangling by the claw. Futu turned on the camera, hoping to see the P.E.L.B. It was still there, hanging by the claw. Futu could see a body in it. Seeing the body, he radioed, “Beam me to the ship there is a body still in this thing.”

Pound 1 had been keeping a constant beaming lock on Futu and quickly beamed him to the Hangar Ship.

As Futu climbed out of the cockpit, “Get medical and engineering personnel to the hangar deck. There is a body in that thing.”  
Once in the Hangar bay, he looked around, “Anyone has a headset I can use?”

 A mechanic shouted, “Sir, you can use my headset, it’s already set to 021.”

Chatter on the Battle Channel was not as hectic. Pilots and Commanders were joking. Futu looked at his watch. He had to do a double take. Only seven minutes had elapsed since the battle began.

“What happened to that Sniper that hit me with the lasers?” asked Futu.

 “You mean that dead Sniper? Yes, Ruckus saw the hit. I got the SOB with my chicken bot. If it killed you, who would buy the first round of drinks tonight?” asked Cazzy.

“Good job, brother.”,

      Futu then asked Cave, “Can you give me an idea of the battle damage?”,

“One of our better scores. 21 hostiles bots destroyed with only one of ours killed. We have taken damage to a lot of our bots, but they are still operational.” said Cave.

Futu, puzzled, “Who was in the one bot destroyed?”

       “Don’t you want to guess?” asked Ruckus.
“Who was it?” asked Futu.

       “Cazzy in his chicken bot.” said Cave.

 “Didn’t he take out the Sniper that hit me?”,

“Yes, he did. Afterwards he ran into a group of three enemy bots without waiting for an ammo reload. He scared the crap out of them, but nothing else.”

       “Ok, Cave let the group know they did great. Drinks on me tonight.”

“Doubles for me.”

Futu turned to the mechanic who had given him the headset.

       “Why were you listening to the Battle Channel?” asked, Futu.

 “I get a kick out of listening to those guys. They sound as if they are at a picnic having a grand time.” said the mechanic.

Futu smiled thinking, “If you only knew.”

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Great Expectations

Expectations of grandeur

Have you had expectations? Expectations and our perception of them change as we grow from and adolescent to a young adult and eventually to an elderly adult.

As an adolescent you have few expectations other than food, shelter, love, and playing Xbox for hours on end. At this age, homework is your one true enemy.

Your growth into young adulthood changes your expectations from studying for your next college exam to prepare for a career and family. Here expectations are at their highest. Expectations of having a position, not a job, say regional vice president at Amazon out of college will soon wane. When reality hits and you realize you won’t get the VP position at Amazon and mom and dad have changed the lock on the entrance to the basement. Your perception of your expectations changes from a position as an industry mogul to an apprentice earning a livable wage. From here expectations change to a building mode. How do I build my career? Who can help me? As you build your career, your perceptions of your expectations will change to one of sharing your life with someone and raising a family.

Expectations of marriage and family will drastically change when you enter this phase of your life. Before, your expectations and concentration have been on your career. In marriage, they’ll focus on your wife and children. Expectations change to ones of compromise, concession, and sharing.

As you progress through young adulthood and enter your elder years, your expectations once again morph into one of a grandparent and wise sage to your grandchildren, spending leisurely days recounting your life stories to whoever will listen and maybe even write a book or two. Even though you are elderly, your expectations of building do not cease. Building a legacy for your children and grandchildren will become your focus. A legacy built by your example over your many years. A legacy of how to live life to its fullest. Not one of money and power.

My expectations have changed over the years, but one has never changed. The one compelling me to be like my father. He will leave a grand legacy for all the family.

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Are You a Standout or a Spectacle

What is with green hair, tattoos, piercing and dressing like a person of ill repute? To standout in society when I was growing up bravery, trustworthiness, loyalty, helpfulness to others, friendliness, courteousness, kindness, helpfulness, cheerfulness, and reverence were the ways to stand out in society. These days people are choosing the convenient rather than the prudent. I will admit the only permanent of these are tattoos. Piercings will close and hair will grow. Tattoos, however, reminds me of a nasty habit that doesn’t go away.

I would like to ask one question, “When you were in your 20s and imagined how cool it would be to have tattoos over your hands, arms, neck and face, did you look at your grandparents with their triple chins, sagging arms and wrinkled hands?”

Soon your taught skin will give way to waddling arms making your, I Love Ike, tattoo look more like a waving flag. Your taught Butterfly tattoo will look like a melting moth, and the tattoos on your hands and face will droop out of proportion.

My advice, go with the time-tested methods to standout in society. If you want a tattoo, have it done in invisible ink.

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Do You Feel Lucky Punk, Well do Ya?

Do you feel lucky punk, well do ya? Is luck a state of mind? Lucky people can find a five-dollar bill under a rock. While we unlucky people struggle to win a hand in penny poker. Why?

The phrase good luck has been in the English language since the 15th century. They derive the word luck from the word gheluc, which was shortened to luc. When it was infused into the English language, the word luc became luck. The word Luck expresses the wish of good fortune or happiness.

Wishing others good luck or good fortune can be expressed in many phrases Break a leg, Good Luck, Lady luck be with you. These phrases wish good fortune and happiness to their recipients.

Does luck exist? Can someone give good fortune or happiness with a mere phrase?

My answer is yes. If luck is indeed a state of mind, then a wish of good fortune could subconsciously set your mind to seek opportunities it feels would bring you good fortune. The thought of luck by itself though will not produce your desired result. One must work to be lucky.

A blind squirrel can find a nut. It may take him all day, but his luck prevailed with the discovery of a nut.

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Life Lesson #42

The Mole & his Mother

A little Mole once said to his Mother:

“Why, Mother, you said I was blind! But I am sure I can see!”

Mother Mole saw she would have to get such conceit out of his head. So she put a bit of frankincense before him and asked him to tell what it was.

The little Mole peered at it.

“Why, that’s a pebble!”

“Well, my son, that proves you’ve lost your sense of smell as well as being blind.”

The Moral of the Story: Boast of one thing and you will be found lacking in that and a few other things as well. Humility is a gift that should be shared with everyone.

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I’m OK, You’re Not OK!

What is anger? Is It an emotion or an uncontrolled response to a situation you can see coming from a mile away? When I was studying management in college, just after the stone age, we studied emotional responses to internal and external influences. These would manifest itself in what they described as I’m OK Your Ok management style.

The idea was to enable the manager to recognize personalities and how to deal with them. There are those called, I’m ok, you’re not ok. This is a person who is never wrong in their minds therefore you must be wrong. The, I’m ok, you’re ok person who can reasonably respond to constructive criticism. Then there’s, I’m not ok, you’re ok. This would be a more timid or introverted person who cannot take constructive criticism.

Anger for the person in the category of, I’m ok you’re not ok is a conditioned response to anyone who evens asks a question. This is referred to as a parental response. “Do It, because I said so.”

This parental response should response be addressed with an adult response. “It is another way to approach the problem. How would it improve the method we already use?”

If the parental response is met with another parental response, the possibility of a violent situation could exist. Be the adult in the room.

The ones identified as, I’m not ok you’re ok will need to be more mentoring than the others and needs more one-on-one time to help build confidence and for them to see you want to help and not stuff them back in their old high school locker.

I’m ok you’re ok person is the ideal for an employee or a friend. I’m not ok you’re ok can be a lot of work, but is usually one on the most loyal friends or employees if you have the time and patience.

I’m ok you’re not ok person is going to be an uphill battle. They will remain argumentative and head strong. It will be their way or the highway. You make the call on that one.

The Moral of the Story: Chose carefully your responses to other people. You always want to be the adult in the conversation. What category of, I’m ok, you’re ok are you in?

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Excerpts from Cry Havoc Chapter 4

After the Commanders left the ready room, Futu headed to the Bridge.

As Futu entered, “Sit Rep, Bridge.”

 “Sir, we were about to call you.” said Bridge.

       “Is something wrong?”

Bridge at the long-range scanner motioned Futu over, “Sir, the scanners show not one but three Hangar Ships.

      “What?”

      “Yes, sir. Three Hangar Ships. The good news is they’ve pissed in their oatmeal.”

 “They what?”

      “The first ship has increased speed to close the gap created by Pound 1 and the trajectory of the asteroid. The second and third Hangar Ships I believe are from different Clans than the first. One Clan sending three Hangar Ships two hours apart is not a great tactic. The second and third Hangar Ship won’t be a factor.”

Futu broke out in laughter, “I see what you mean, Bridge. We will make sure it leaves a nasty taste in their mouth.”

 “There is one thing, we’ll not arrive ten to fifteen minutes before the first Hangar Ship as we originally thought. Because of the first ship increased speed, we’ll have less than two minutes before they arrive at the asteroid.”

“You make that sound as if it was a bad thing, Bridge.”

Bridge looked at Futu, puzzled.

 “This should raise the Commanders and Pilots’ spirits. They were afraid they’d miss a good battle.”

Futu turned from the scanner toward Bridge. “Have we heard from Pound 2?”

 “No, sir, but we just picked them up on long range scans. They are not letting any moss grow underneath their feet.”

 “I guess that means they’re making good time?”

 “Yes, sir. They should beat their ETA by 15 minutes. They must have put 200-proof whiskey in those hyperdrive engines.”

 “I’d like to call them, but we need to maintain radio silence. Keep those scans short. We don’t want to give away our surprise.”

Futu left the bridge for the hangar deck and his bot.

After Futu left the Bridge room. The Bridge Tech went back to his duties of monitoring the progress of the red alert. He checked the status of the sections and how they were moving along with the shuttering of the Hangar Ship. He also was monitoring the enemy ships and the approach of Pound 2.

After 45 minutes, two sections reported shuttering complete.

Once they analyzed the surface, sites near the P.E.L.B. was selected for Locator Beacon deployment. Locator Beacons crews reported them programmed and ready.

At the 30-minute mark before launch, each section reported shuttering complete.

The Bridge Tech looked at the scanner five minutes before launch confirming rates of closure of the first ship and confirm the other two ships were still maintaining their original speed. Everything remained constant. Bridge walked to his console after he completed and confirmed his checks, then he grabbed the intercom mic to start his announcements.

“Over drop site in 30 seconds.”

“Locator Beacons launched.”

“Locator Beacon signal confirmed,”

“Space Fighters Launch.”

“Bot launch in 5.4.3.2.1, launch.”

Before the launch of the bots, Bridge checked for loss of the Locator Beacon signal. Then verified Space Fighters had launched from their hangar decks.

After the Bridge reviewed his checklist and confirmed it complete, he sat back in his chair, “You-all come back now, ya hear.”

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The next Plane of Knowledge

I have been told there are four planes of knowledge. The first plane of knowledge is you don’t know what you don’t know. Some would refer to this first plane as a state of bliss. King Solomon referred to ignorance as bliss. Here there is no responsibility, no lamenting over misdeeds either done to you or by you. A peace felt by a child upon entering the world. Loved, cared for and protected.

The second plane of knowledge is you don’t know what you know. Here one learns about things which they had no previous knowledge. Crawling, walking, and what tastes good. Then as the synapsis in the brain connect, talking and reasoning start. While the person is still learning, they are still unaware of what they know.

The third plane of knowledge is you know what you don’t know. Here the person realizes there is more to life than what they have experienced to date. The mind is now seeking knowledge, to learn more of the world and their surroundings. Questions swirl in the mind. What is life? Why am I here? Why hasn’t someone fixed this problem before? This is the first stage on innovation and ingenuity. Here we discovered the wheel, automobiles, flight, and space travel.

The fourth and final plane of knowledge is you know what you know. This plane by many is considered the highest level of knowledge. On this plane many feel you have reached the pinnacle of your chosen profession. But to me this plane is one of stagnant growth. In 1899 Charles H. Duell the commissioner of the U.S. patent office was attributed with a famous utterance, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” He is not alone. There are those who will say, there is no GOD, ghosts, spirits and demons are baseless, but the one I like the best are those who say In this immense universe we are the only ones in it.

We need to remain inquisitive and continue our search for more knowledge.

The moral of the Story: When your green, you’re growing. When your ripe, you start to rot. Keep growing.

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Life nd the Light Bulb

A light blub is a good analogy of how you may view life. Each blub has a life expectancy, no matter if it is for 100 hours or seven years. Our expectations and actions also have a life expectancy and reflects the way we view life at different times in our lives.

The bulb lasting 100 hours burns bright and then suddenly ends. A seven year blub produces a less brilliant light but can sustain their light over many years before extinguishing.

In life we find ourselves like the 100 hours blub, burning bright with no regard for the consequences. Much like I was as a teenager, ten foot tall and bullet proof with no fear of death. As I grew older getting closer to the end of my 100 hours of bulb’s life, now married to a wonderful woman who gave me two beautiful daughters, I saw then perhaps burning bright all the time is not required to make your mark on the world.

My mark on life is my family and how they go forward. Now with grandchildren, my blub burns bright but at a constant light. Mentoring them and telling stories of years long past.

Now as a seven year blub, I can see my grandchildren grow and prosper as I see my mark on the world grow as well through my family.

The Moral of the Story: Family will sustain you and bring your light forward many generations after your bulb has reached its life expectancy. Don’t burn out your blub before you have generated more blubs to continue your light.

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Brutality or Gentleness

An Aesop Fable from the library of congress

The North Wind & the Sun

The North Wind and the Sun had a quarrel about which of them was the stronger. While they were disputing with much heat and bluster, a Traveler passed along the road wrapped in a cloak.

“Let us agree,” said the Sun, “that he is the stronger who can strip that Traveler of his cloak.”

“Very well,” growled the North Wind, and at once sent a cold, howling blast against the Traveler.

With the first gust of wind the ends of the cloak whipped about the Traveler’s body. But he immediately wrapped it closely around him, and the harder the Wind blew, the tighter he held it to him. The North Wind tore angrily at the cloak, but all his efforts were in vain.

Then the Sun began to shine. At first his beams were gentle, and in the pleasant warmth after the bitter cold of the North Wind, the Traveler unfastened his cloak and let it hang loosely from his shoulders. The Sun’s rays grew warmer and warmer. The man took off his cap and mopped his brow. At last he became so heated that he pulled off his cloak, and, to escape the blazing sunshine, threw himself down in the welcome shade of a tree by the roadside.

The Moral of the Story: Gentleness and kind persuasion win where force and bluster fail.

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Cry Havoc Excerpts from Chapter 3

“Dispatch, is Stimpy there?”

“No, sir. I can call him.”

“No, I’ll get with him later.”

“Pound 1, can you give me a sit-rep every 30 minutes?”

No response.

Dispatch called again, “Acknowledge Pound 1.”

No response.

Dispatch called again, “Pound 1. Did you copy last transmission?”

The silence was becoming a grave concern to Dispatch. Dispatch picked up his communicator to call Stimpy as he walked through the door.

Dispatch turned toward Stimpy, “Sir, we have lost communications with Pound 1.”

“Put Pound 2 on red alert and get Pound 1 back on Comms as soon as possible. Try every known frequency. Understood?”

“Yes sir, I am trying every known frequency.”

“Is Hangar 3 ready to launch?”

“Yes, sir. They will be ready in 30 minutes to assume patrols.”

 “I’m beaming up to Pound 2. If you get Pound 1 back on Comms, let me know. Oh, contact Pound 2 and inform them I am on my way. Have them assembled its Commanders in the ready room by the time I arrive.”

“Yes, sir.”

After Stimpy left the room, Dispatch contacted Pound 2.

“Pound 2 Bridge, Dispatch.”

“Dispatch, Pound 2 Bridge. Go ahead.”

“Commander Stimpy is on the way to your location. He wants the Pound 2 Commanders in the ready room upon his arrival to brief them on the current situation.”

“They will be in the ready room when he arrives.”

“He is heading to the beaming facility now.”

“I’ll pass the information along.”

As Stimpy arrived at Pound 2, he went straight to the ready room. Stimpy reaching the head of the table, “Commanders, please take a seat. Dogs, we’ve lost communications with Pound 1. We are unsure if it’s a technical problem, communication being jammed or loss of the Hangar Ship. Dispatch is trying to reestablish communications. If we do not regain communications with Pound 1 in the next 30 minutes, we will launch to finish Pound 1’s mission and recover any survivors.”

The room went silent when Stimpy mentioned the possible destruction of Pound 1 and the start of a recovery mission. Walking Pilots feared that one day they too may need to be recovered. They never spoke the word among their ranks. Now the crew of Pound 2 heard that dreaded word, recovery, regarding their friends and fellow Walking Pilots. The room was silent.

“We will launch in 30 minutes. Questions?”

Boosh stood, “Do we have to take Stone with us?”

The entire room broke out in laughter, even Stone. Tensions eased and set the Commanders in a lighter mood.

Stimpy trying to keep a straight face, “Yes Boosh, Stone is coming. Dogs, it’s time to hunt. Get to your stations and prepare for launch. I will be in the Bridge room. Dismissed.”

As Stimpy walked to the Bridge room, his thoughts were on Pound 1.

As he entered, Bridge saw him, “Sir, we have Dispatch on Comms. He wants to talk to you.”

“This is Stimpy. What is it, Dispatch?”

       “Sir, we have restored communications with Pound 1 and we have picked up another Hangar Ship a respectful distance behind the first Hangar Ship.”

Stimpy ripped off the headset and turned toward the Bridge Tech, “How soon can we get this thing launched?”

“In 20 minutes, sir.”

Stimpy in an angry tone, “Why 20 minutes Bridge?”

“Sir, we are still tethered to the resupply Transport for water. The procedure to untether takes 20 minutes.”

“Get it done faster.”

Bridge started, “Sir.”

Stimpy interrupted, “Just get it done Bridge.”

Stimpy becoming angry and frustrated turned back to put on his headset, “Dispatch talk to me.”

 “We received a brief transmission from Commander Futu saying their communications were being jammed. They are now on communications Protocol Echo 4. I asked him to hold for you, but he wanted to keep radio chatter to a minimum. According to Protocol Echo 4, communications will be fully restored in 30 minutes.”

“Give me a heads up when they call back and patch me through.”

“Yes, sir.”

Stimpy slammed the headset on the console. As he looked around, he noticed no one was making eye contact with him, “I need a cup of coffee. Where is the damn coffeepot?”

Five techs ran to the coffeepot to get Stimpy a cup of coffee.

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Fear!

Once someone said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” What does this person mean to convey with such a statement? Fear is an emotion felt by many if not all of us at one time. If we have nothing to fear but fear, then I could put fear into a whole different context.

What if fear is not an emotion, but a state of mind paralyzing thought and even movement, rendering an individual totally helpless? Fear in this context can be overcome and conquered using your power over your mind. This power is the power to respond to a situation as you wish, not as your mind wishes. A conditioned response to an uncontrolled situation.

Pilots in the military and in commercial aviation are conditioned to respond to emergency situations not in fear, as most people not trained would respond, but in a conditioned response of calm. A pilot acting in fear kills himself and everyone onboard his aircraft.

In an aircraft emergency, there is certainly fear felt by the pilot and the crew. Believe me, I have experienced the fear of burning engines, pieces of my aircraft abruptly leaving and other emergencies many times over in my 18,000 hours of flight time. It is because of my conditioned response to fear, I am writing this blogpost today.

If fear then is controllable. Your affirmation statement should be: I have nothing to fear but fear itself.

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La Muerte

Death like taxes is unavoidable, but unlike taxes, people fear death. They try everything imaginable to keep death at bay, but when it comes for them, their loved ones are surprised by their sudden departure.

Death is inevitable. Prepare for death and embrace it as another chapter in the journey of life. Don’t make your life here on Earth miserable trying to avoid death or fearing it. There is nothing to fear.

Do your best at everything you do. Your life lived to the fullest will leave a legacy not soon forgotten. Whether or not you are a person of faith, death will come knocking at your door one day. Upon your death, let those who mourn you say your life was full of joy, happiness and love.

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PRIDE, an Aesop Fable

The Fighting Cocks & the Eagle

Once there were two Cocks living in the same farmyard who could not bear the sight of each other. At last one day they flew up to fight it out, beak and claw. They fought until one of them was beaten and crawled off to a corner to hide.

The Cock that had won the battle flew to the top of the hen-house, and, proudly flapping his wings, crowed with all his might to tell the world about his victory. But an Eagle, circling overhead, heard the boasting chanticleer and, swooping down, carried him off to his nest.

His rival saw the deed, and coming out of his corner, took his place as master of the farmyard.

The Moral of the tory: Pride goes before a fall.

Have you stubbled on your pride?

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Cry Havoc Excerpts from Chapter 2

“Yes, sir. Now is a great time. Thank you for asking. We have been working on the signal for hours. There was disbelief it was a Pilot Emergency Locator Beacon considering the great distances it was transmitting. They’re designed only to transmit up to 1600 kilometers. We have been tracking the signal since its strength increased and we now can confirm it to be a P.E.L.B. How that could happen we don’t know, but it must have been altered beyond belief. If you want to retrieve it, our calculations have determined it to be within range in 48 hours.”

 “What else can produce the same signal?” asked Futu.

“The unit has a unique signal. It’s designed for short-range with a distinctive signal pattern that allows it to track to a specific Hangar Ship. Because of the signal pattern, it has a discrete frequency range. How it’s transmitting over long distances has us scratching our heads.” said Doug.

“How are we picking up a powerful signal 48 hours away when its engineered to transmit only 1600 kilometers?” asked Stimpy.

“We want to know that too. It is a signal engineering feat.” said Doug.

 “Any other information we should know?”

 “Sir, I don’t know. Until we see what has been done, we’re just speculating.”

“Thanks, Doug.”

Stimpy looked at Futu. His facial expression was that of shock.

“So, let’s grab this thing and bring it back. You up for it?” asked Stimpy.

“Let’s do it. Since the P.E.L.B. signal is strong and transmitting over such extreme distances, it will give us insight to increasing not only the signal strength, but increasing survival time of our Pilots. I have been interested in a way to increase its range to allow a higher orbit, avoiding hostile Hangars Ships and exceeding the range of their short-range Space Fighters. This could be a tremendous improvement for our Hangar Ships. How soon can we get started?”

“Pound 1 is due in later today. Pound 2 should be here in the morning.”

“That is fine. We’ll get started in the morning.”

The next morning, Dispatch received a report that the trajectory of the P.E.L.B. had changed 90 degrees. It had collided with a large asteroid unscathed and was traveling perpendicular to its original path. This trajectory, along with the asteroid’s speed, had decreased the time to intercept.

Dispatch briefed Stimpy on the recent information and the changes in the speed and direction.

Stimpy decided it was time to call Futu and get him involved.

Futu, walking toward the office, reached for his communicator, “Futu.”

      “Futu, Stimpy. Can you come to Dispatch? There’s been a change in the P.E.L.B.’s direction.”

“On my way.”

Futu entered seeing Dispatch and Stimpy huddled around the long-range scanner, “What’s up guys?”

Stimpy turned toward Futu, “You want to see our good fortune?”

Futu, puzzled, approached the scanner, “What good fortune is on the scanner?”

“It hit an asteroid last night and is heading toward us. It’s only eight hours out and closing. We can intercept it in less than seven hours with a Hangar Ship. Now the bad news. There is another Hangar Ship heading on an intercept course. No confirmation yet, but we have traced it back to a sector along our eastern border.”

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Cigars, Cigarette, Tipporillos

Yesterday my grandson Antony looked at me with a stern face, “What is the most bizarre thing you’ve ever seen Papa?”

I didn’t even have to think about it, “Cigars.”

Now think about it, over a thousand years ago a Mayan thought he’d look cool to roll a leaf of tobacco inside a plantain leaf and lit it. Then to top that dumb move, he inhaled the smoke. Absolutely beyond belief. Not to be outdone by an ancient rebellious Mayan teenager, modern man has rolled tobacco we call cigars and pays $50 dollars for the pleasure of watching it burn away under his nose. Stupid seems to have continued throughout the ages.

If it were me, I would start a wood fire and breath in the smoke. At least you will stay warm while you are attempting long-term suicide. My grand father died from smoking and my father smoked for 30 years before he realized it was stupid and quit. Watching my grandfather and father coughing and wheezing was a valuable lesson. Ingesting anything into your body not on the pyramid of food chart is BAD.

You want to do something wild and crazy, throw your car keys in a lake and get drunk Then at least you can equate the cost of your actions to what you derived from your action. Cars aren’t that expensive.

Moral of the Story: Cool equals stupid. Taking care of your mind and body equals being Smart. Smart people live longer.

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My Mind Control

The mind is an interesting topic for me because of its complexity. The mind controls body functions and translates pain, as to location and severity and can help promote healing, which is great. I have the power to reason and decide my responses based on the mind’s previous experiences.

My mind also provokes emotion of joy and happiness, jealousy and anger. It perceives reality, but not genuine reality. It perceives its own reality based on my experience’s, environment and functionality of each part and chemical makeup of my brain. While others feel happiness, I may feel depression because of my mind’s reality.

As a combat veteran, I too had suffered from what has been called gun shy, shell-shocked and post-traumatic stress syndrome. While they are real and have been diagnosed as mental conditions, to me it is brain conditioning. If I’m in an environment of violence, my mind conditions me to react, invoking my survival response of flight or fight, flee or stay. In my experiences, if this response is unchecked, my mind will magnify its response. This magnification, in my opinion, increases adrenaline and other flight or fight endorphins. Basically, turning my mind into an adrenaline junkie.

Three things kept me from turning to the dark side. My wife, family, and my faith. Shelia put up with my actions and consoled me during dark times. Family being understanding and supportive. Faith gave me the power to overcome a mind I had little control over. When I felt I had the power to control my mind. I wouldn’t accept my mind’s perception of my reality. As each emotion producing my flight or fight response emerged, I would recite Matthew 4:10 to put the emotion in my emotional lock box.

Putting these emotions into my internal lock box was like trying to put a cat into a sack. It took many tries to lock it away. This took 27 years to detoxify my mind. But it doesn’t end there. My mind continues to think what I call evil thoughts. Armed with the power to control my mind, evil thoughts still encroach, but they’re rejected by my conscience, giving me peace.

If you keep looking backwards, you’ll never see what’s coming.

I am not a psychiatric doctor, therapist, or a counselor. What I am writing is my experiences and mine alone. I write this to provoke thought and to entertain.

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What is Love?

As a father of two daughters and a husband over fifty years, I’ve accumulated experience and with much thought and insight into what love might be.

I married, at nineteen, to a wonderful woman who I had known since the fourth grade. We both were raised in a small agricultural community in the Midwest. I didn’t realize then she was to become my wife and soulmate.

Our marriage was tested quickly with my deployment to Vietnam only three months after we married. This grew our bond even more. Our daughters were born in 1971 and 1974. My daughters, as most young girls dreamed of marriage and life with their soulmate.

Asked many times, I finally thought of an answer. My answer was love is a need. If you feel a person in your life is needed to complete your life, that is love. As the years passed, my definition has changed with a more experienced approach.

The love of another is the desire to share your life with someone and to grow into the people GOD wants you both to be. Genuine love is not physical, although it may start out that way, it will soon give way to the wants and needs of your spouse.

I have mentioned in previous blogs the acronym J.O.Y. Love is joy and I have found through a relationship with GOD you can glimpse into what I refer to as a spiritual love. It makes you aware that a gesture of love, such as that of JESUS, in the Christian belief, is a gesture of sacrifice to his creation. Marriage is a creation merging two lives into one. If we follow his example, we too can feel we’re committed to the marriage as JESUS is committed to his creation, you. Spiritual love is a two-way street. love is given and love is received to glorify one another.

I look upon my wife as a gift from GOD to be cherished and cared for. The King James bible, describes a wife as one who takes strength from her husband and then returns it as encouragement and praise. If his wife is to draw strength from her husband, he must strong.

One strength she can draw from is his love and respect for her. If she feels loved and respected as an individual participating in the marriage by her husband she will return his love and respect.

Another strength is her husbands expression of love for her to others. A public acknowledgement of his love for her will be returned in many ways.

The one strength she will draw on the most is one of maintaining the laws of the marriage. Your vows you express in your marriage to love, cherish, honor and obey the laws of this new creation until death do you part.

My marriage of fifty years has taught me while we will have times of discord, genuine love will find a way to keep you together if you work hard and draw from each other’s strength and forgive each others weaknesses.

Father always said, “Marriage is the willingness to put up with each others crap.”

He and my mother where married for fifty years.

Happy Valentine’s day.

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A Fable by Aesop

The Owl & the Grasshopper

The Owl always takes her sleep during the day. Then after sundown, when the rosy light fades from the sky and the shadows rise slowly through the wood, out she comes ruffling and blinking from the old hollow tree. Now her weird “hoo-hoo-hoo-oo-oo” echoes through the quiet wood, and she begins her hunt for the bugs and beetles, frogs and mice she likes so well to eat.

Now there was a certain old Owl who had become very cross and hard to please as she grew older, especially if anything disturbed her daily slumbers. One warm summer afternoon as she dozed away in her den in the old oak tree, a Grasshopper nearby began a joyous but very raspy song. Out popped the old Owl’s head from the opening in the tree that served her both for door and for window.

“Get away from here, sir,” she said to the Grasshopper. “Have you no manners? You should at least respect my age and leave me to sleep in quiet!”

But the Grasshopper answered saucily that he had as much right to his place in the sun as the Owl had to her place in the old oak. Then he struck up a louder and still more rasping tune.

The wise old Owl knew quite well that it would do no good to argue with the Grasshopper, nor with anybody else for that matter. Besides, her eyes were not sharp enough by day to permit her to punish the Grasshopper as he deserved. So she laid aside all hard words and spoke very kindly to him.

“Well sir,” she said, “if I must stay awake, I am going to settle right down to enjoy your singing. Now that I think of it, I have a wonderful wine here, sent me from Olympus, of which I am told Apollo drinks before he sings to the high gods. Please come up and taste this delicious drink with me. I know it will make you sing like Apollo himself.”

The foolish Grasshopper was taken in by the Owl’s flattering words. Up he jumped to the Owl’s den, but as soon as he was near enough so the old Owl could see him clearly, she pounced upon him and ate him up.

The Moral of the Story: Flattery is not a proof of true admiration. Do not let flattery throw you off your guard against an enemy.

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Why Couldn’t I have been a Grandparent first

Grand parenting is the best job ever. Yesterday my two grandchildren, Anthony and Kassandra, were at the house. They played quietly. Little angels wishing only to make you happy. Truly a joy to be around.

My wife and Kassandra made cookies. Anthony and I had discussions about cold fusion and airplanes, and unlike my daughters, his gaze didn’t wonder or his eyes glass over with a look of sheer boredom.

Then children at the learned age of sixteen, conclude their parents have had a lobotomy. Now you’re the dumbest person who ever walked the planet. While grandchildren, no matter their age, look to their grandparents with admiration and love.

Your children, looking at you with their, as if, look, “You don’t know what it’s like being sixteen. When you were growing up, there wasn’t any fashion.”

Another one of my personal favorites is when your daughter looks at you, “You know nothing about anything. You are making my life miserable.”

Then a miracle happens, they marry and have kids. Now you’re getting phone calls in the middle of the night, “I can’t get the children to eat anything green.”

The sobbing phone call, “I talk to them and talk to them and they act like I’m not there.”

Then the best one is the call, “These kids think I’m there maid not their mother.”

I cannot count how many times I heard that from my children’s mother. Hearing it brings a smile to a grandparent’s face.

Carma can be cruel.

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Escape from the Mamluk Empire

I hope you have enjoyed the stories about Christopher’s and Bud’s great adventure. As the adventures continues the book is expected to be ready for pre-order in late August. If there are some of you who would like an advanced free copy of the eBook for a review please leave a comment to this post with your email. When the book is ready I will send you a copy in your desired format.

Thank you for following Christopher and Bud. I hope you enjoy the book as much as much as you enjoyed the blog post.

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Excerpts from Chapter 1

The radio crackled. As they crowded around the radio, they heard a person shouting, “Anyone …read …mission…is Rick calling…who can…low on supplies… Commander Richards left…squad…to find…supplies…morale low…no… from Richards…anyone hear me…. Reply.”

The transmission ended.

After the transmission ended, Futu, Stimpy, and Dispatch talked among themselves to figure out what they had heard.

 “It sounded as if he was making a distress call. I heard him say something regarding lack of supplies.”, Futu said.

 “Yes, he did. Did I hear the name Richards?”, Stimpy said.

 “Yes. I could make that out, no question.”, Dispatch said.

 “Hearing Richard’s name again doesn’t give me a warm fuzzy feeling. What did he say Richards was doing?”, Futu asked.
“He mentioned Richards left with a squad to find something.”, Dispatch said.

 “Were we able to locate the source of the transmission.”, Stimpy asked.

 “No, sir. It was too short. Very weak and broken.”, Dispatch said.

 “I heard the name Rick. Sounded as if he was in real trouble. Anyone ever hear that call sign before today?”, Stimpy said.

Both Futu and Dispatch shook their head.

 “Do you think you can get this Rick guy back on the radio? We need more information.”, Futu asked.

 “What was he telling us regarding his supplies? You think our sponsor maybe able to shed light on the matter?”, a puzzled Stimpy said

“We can try. It is a new relationship. Reggie is not an easy read. He may not be in the sharing mood.”, Futu said.

As Dispatch, tried to get Rick on the radio with no success, Stimpy walked toward the radio. Futu had left Dispatch heading back to his office to make his call to Reggie.

“Dispatch let me send a transmission in the blind. His radio might receive transmissions. It sounded as if he needed to hear another person’s voice.”, Stimpy said.

      “I am Commander Stimpy with DOW on WTF base transmitting in the blind. Rick, we received your transmission. We too are facing challenges. Sometimes the situation seems bleak, but we must not waiver. A twentieth century American General said there is no substitute for Victory. It must resolve us to carry on our Clan’s tradition of adapting to situations and overcoming challenges. Keep the faith, Rick, Keep the faith.”, Stimpy said.

 “Wow, that was great, sir. I hope he heard it.”, Dispatch said.

 “Well, a good pep-talk never hurt. If you get a response to my transmission, let me know. I’m heading back to my office. You can reach me there if you need me.”

 “Yes, sir. If I hear from him again, I will call you.”

Stimpy smiled with two thumbs up, then exited Dispatch heading back to his office.

Futu entered his office and shut the door behind him. Futu sat in his chair sighing, “I hope this goes well.” He dialed Reggie’s number, listening to the communicator buzz in his ear.
“Hello Futu.”, Reggie said.

 “Hello Reggie. I wanted to check in with you to see if we might share information.”, Futu said.

“I guess that depends on what information you want shared?”

“We received a radio transmission from an unknown source a few minutes ago. The transmission alluded to an attack and the lack of supplies. The transmission mentioned a Commander named Richards. Is there any information you can share with us? We have concerns.”

“I guess you deserve to know what is happening. The Trade Federation is conducting a strike. They want to renegotiate their agreement with the corporations. I am assured they will reach an amiable agreement in a few more days. XTECH expected this move by them and have increased our supply levels to sustain our Proxy Clans for several months.”

 “We are gun shy here, Reggie. Our last Clan Leader kept us like a mushroom, covered with crap and kept in the dark. We need transparency, and we need you to keep us informed if any problems arise. For now, we are good. Just remember, we work better in the light.”

“You and your Clan are fine. There will be no problems that we can’t fix.”

“I hope so. I got my Clan into this and I don’t want to tell them we may have supply problems.”

“Nothing will go wrong, Futu. We’ve been working to get you guys for a while and we will not endanger our relationship.”

“What should we think about this transmission?”

 “I’ll check it out, but it sounds as if the poor bastard got hooked up with the wrong people. You’ve heard the stories about Richards. He’d cut your throat if it involved money. You guys have proven yourselves. We will prove ourselves to you. You have nice digs, right? Plenty of parts and supplies, not to mention four Hangar Ships. We have done everything we promised. There will be no mushrooms on WTF.”

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Is There Romance in the Air

After breakfast, Christopher gathered everyone together. “We are going shopping today. When we get to town Natalie and Bryan will drop us off at the Mall, then take overwatch sniper positions on her house’s roof. Maintain radio silence until a target is spotted. Once in position, radio us. When we have completed clothes shopping, we will radio for extraction. When we call, Natalie will collect her winter coats, then Natalie and Bryan will pick us up. Next stop will be Bryan’s house. Bryan, you need to be in and out with your clothes in fifteen minutes. The dealership will be our next stop. Bryan and Sylvia will select two trucks with sides. We will take hoses, funnels and buckets to siphon enough gas to get them back to the house. Chances are the refueling points will be empty, but we’ll check them, anyway. If we find a refueling point with fuel, we will fill the trucks and the bulk tank in Natalie’s truck. Minimum time on the ground without oversight. Questions anyone?”

Bud raised his hand, “Can I get red winter pants? I have never had red pants.”

Christopher nodded his head, “Red pants it is young man. Even if there are no red pants, we will dye them red for you. Any more questions before we leave?”

Bud raised his hand again, “Do I get to burn any trucks or mobiles?”

“Sorry big guy, not this time.”

Natalie dropped them off at the mall and then headed to her house to set up the overwatch with Bryan. Sylvia and Claudia checked out the girl and teen shops. Christopher and Bud checked out the boy’s stores. Three hours later, with half the mall stacked by the front door, they had everything on the list. Christopher radioed, “Overwatch were are ready.”

Natalie radioed, “Roger, ETA twenty minutes to your location.”

After they loaded the truck, they headed to the dealership. Natalie took overwatch as Sylvia and Bryan picked out two trucks. Christopher and Bud teamed up to siphoned fuel, as did Sylvia and Claudia and Bryan. After they siphoned as much fuel as possible, Natalie was called down from her observation point.

Sylvia and Natalie checked out fueling points while Bryan drove to his house. He was on schedule, in and out, in less than fifteen minutes. They found two refueling points with fuel. After all the trucks were full, they headed to the house.

As they were traveling, Bud let everyone know he was now the proud owner of red pants, big ones. Sylvia stared at Christopher as Bud kept bragging about his red pants.

Christopher shrugged his shoulders, “He insisted on wearing one pair home. What could I say?”

They unloaded the truck and covered them. They ate a late lunch, then they were treated to a fashion show of the children’s new clothes. After dinner it was time to start the 1800-hour watch.

Natalie and Bryan came to Christopher, “Would it be alright if we watched together until 0100 hours?”

Christopher trying to look stern, “There needs to be total concentration out there. If you miss someone approaching, we all could die. You understand the seriousness of these watches?”

Bryan stepped forward, “We understand, sir. Natalie and I won’t let you down. We will either be behind our binoculars or our scopes. It helps to have company out there, sir. It can get lonely on watch.”

“No one is going to die on our watch, Christopher. We promise.” said Natalie.

Christopher appearing to be in deep thought, “It is worth a try. I’ll relief you both at 0100 hours. Remember, you promised not to let me down.

Natalie excited, gave Christopher a kiss on the cheek, “We won’t.”

They grabbed their binoculars, sniper rifles and helmets to start their watch.

Bud and Claudia were playing a board game at the kitchen table, while Sylvia and Christopher sat on the sofa in the front room. Sylvia turned toward Christopher, “So, Mr. Softy. First the red pants, then Bryan and Natalie. You are on a roll today. My money says Bud sleeps in those red pants tonight.”

“If he does, it’s fine with me. He’s seven. Sleeping in your pants is a rite of passage, right? Since we are discussing expectations, I was very disappointed not seeing you in the fashion show. I didn’t take you for the shy type.”

Sylvia leaned over to Christopher and stroked his face, “You still have more cards to play soldier. If you play them correctly, you may get a private fashion show.”

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Christopher Recovers from his Wounds

Once Christopher was on the exam table, she cut his shirt off for a better look at the severity of the wound. As she removed his shirt, she noticed the scars from Christopher’s shrapnel wounds he had accumulated over the years as a fighter pilot, “Well, it explains why you’re not in severe shock. The experience is nothing new to you.”

Christopher talked, but Sylvia cut him off, “You lay back and be quiet. I have work to do. You’re distracting me with your tongue flapping. This shot is a local anesthesia, but you may still have slight pain.” As Sylvia was digging the bullet out of his shoulder, a single shot rang out from the fighting positions. Sylvia put her forearm across Christopher’s chest.

“All we need to know is whether the shot was out going or in coming?”

Christopher looking at Sylvia, “It was outgoing.”

“Stay still then.”

After Sylvia removed the bullet, she bandaged and put his shoulder into a sling and administered a shot to help fight infection. Christopher now setting on the edge of the exam table, “I need to check on Bryan and Natalie.”

“Fine, take these crutches. I don’t want those stitches torn open.”

As Christopher walked out of the exam room, he was greeted by Bud and Claudia. Bud hugged his leg, “You ok Christopher?”

Christopher looked at Bud hugging his leg, I’m fine Bud it was just a scratch. You and Claudia stay here with Sylvia. I’m going to check on Bryan and Natalie. I’ll be right back.”

Christopher radioed, “Bryan, Natalie. I’m coming back to the fighting positions. Don’t shoot me and stay down. No need to give them a clear shot after surviving that battle.”

Natalie radioed. “One tried, but didn’t get the chance. I took him out quickly.”

Christopher radioed, “That’s my girl. Keep those heads down and eyes open.”

When he arrived at his fighting position, he scanned the battle line. Nothing was seen, even on infrared. He radioed, “Anyone coming down from the adrenaline rush yet?”

No response.

Christopher clicked his radio, “OK, you two can keep each other company for the rest of the night. Increase your scans with infrared scopes from the front to each side. If someone eludes your scans and tries to flank us, you can catch them when you scan to the side. Make your scans smooth but quick. Scan from the sides first, moving to the front. Understood?”

Natalie radioed, “Acknowledged.”

Bryan radioed, “Acknowledged, sir.”

Christopher radioed, “Sylvia or myself will be out at the top of every hour with snacks, coffee and breakfast tea. We’ll radio before we come out. No radio call, shoot first, ask questions later. I’ll be back at the top of the hour.”

As he entered the cave, Sylvia helped him to the kitchen table, “Now you ready for bed?”

Christopher looked at Sylvia, “It will be light in a few hours, Natalie and Bryan are pumped up on adrenaline and won’t be able to sleep for two days. I need to make sure they are fine until daybreak. We will detect aggressors better during the day. I told them I would bring out snacks and coffee and breakfast tea for Natalie at the top of every hour. I also told them if they don’t get a radio call and they see someone they were to shoot and ask questions later.”

Sylvia sitting at the table, “In that case I’ll let you go. If they shoot me, there won’t be anyone to patch me back together.”

Christopher chuckling, “You have a point there.”

Sylvia set the timer on the range and got a deck of cards from a cabinet drawer, “Ginn Rummy, 500-point game?”

“No strip poker?”

“We’ve only been through one battle. What kind of girl do you think I am?”

Christopher laughed out loud.

“Quiet, you’ll wake the children.”

Ginn Rummy and shuttling food and drink to the fighting positions kept them going through the night.

When the sun was above the horizon. Christopher sent Natalie and Bryan to get their rest. They would be on watch tonight. After Bud and Claudia had their breakfast, Sylvia brought them out to start their game of finding people playing hide and go seek. After the kids were in place, Sylvia stared at Christopher, “Its daylight. Time for you to hit the rack soldier.”

“I have pulled an all-nighter before.”

“Not with a bullet wound. I’ve had much more all-nighters than you can imagine. I spent three of my five-years as a nurse pulling double shifts. You are going to bed for the next few days. I’ll wake you for lunch.

Christopher hearing her logic could not argue with her. At lunch Sylvia came into Christopher’s room with hot soup and pain pills, “You’re going to need both. Pills first, then the soup.”

As Christopher tried to sit up, pain shot through his shoulder. The pain pills were the first thing he reached for. Looking at Sylvia, “How are our game players doing?”

“They’re doing fine. Bud is upset, there is no one playing today. I told him to keep watching, it was early yet for hide and seekers to be playing. Bryan and Natalie are awake. They have been asking about you. Natalie volunteered to make you dinner. So, I will get my sleep after your finished with lunch. In four hours, I’ll check in on you and give you your meds. Bryan has instructions concerning any efforts you may make to get out of bed. If you don’t want a poke in your shoulder, stay in bed.

“I’ll be a good patient Nurse Sylvia. Don’t worry.”

“Good, it’s time for you and I to get some sleep. I’ll check in on you later. Good night.”

Before Christopher knew it, Natalie brought in dinner. It was soup and more medication.

“No steak? I like steak for dinner.”

Natalie looking at him, “Only soup for the next day or two, Sylvia orders. When your healed you can have steak.”

“How are the scans going? Any movement in town?”

“They’ve seen no one all day. It seems like the town emptied overnight. Bryan and I will scan for any lights tonight.”

“Make your scans 180 degrees. Start by facing the town, then to the other side of the mountain. We don’t want them to seek up on us from behind.”

“I’ll let Bryan know. See you in the morning.”

Christopher laid back and went to sleep. Sylvia came in at 2100 hours, 0100 hours, 0500 hours giving him his medicine. At 0900 hours she had breakfast and more medication.

“How’s the pain this morning?”

“It’s still there, if that is what you’re asking. When did I get the I.V.?”

“The same time I hooked you up to the heart monitor.”

Christopher looked around, seeing the heart monitor and the I. V. bag hanging by the bed.

“You’ve been a busy little nurse. How are the kids doing?”

“They are doing fine. Bud keeps asking how you are doing. You have become quite the father figure to him, you know.”

“He helped me a lot as well. He is a special young man. Any more movement in town?”

It’s been quiet for over thirty-six hours. The odor from the bodies is getting worse in the scorching sun. The bodies are already attracting scavenger birds. Bryan and I are going to burn the field today.

“No, you’re not. I can help Bryan. Remember, if you get shot there’s no one to put you back together. Besides, it won’t take long. I will stay in bed for as long as you want me to after we finish. Natalie can stand watch and you can keep Claudia and Bud in the house. Deal?”

“One hour only. No more.”

Christopher and Bryan burned bodies and mobiles, making the scene look as if it was a military strike. The fires burned well into the night.

For the next seven days Christopher rested while the others-maintained watch over the countryside and him. On the eighth day, Sylvia let Christopher take his meals at the table having conversations with everyone. Spirits were high. Weeks soon turned into months with no one in sight.

 Christopher felt a chill in the air. It would be winter soon and the younger ones could not maintain their watch, nor was their food supply infinite. Soon they will need to hunt and gather to survive. Their supply of sugar and flour and canned goods would last 12 months or longer, depending on what they could gather before winter. But there were bigger matters to address today. Bud’s seventh birthday party.

Christopher had gathered decorations for the party before they left town. Along with the decorations, Bud’s Seventh birthday party had noise makers, cake and Ice cream for everyone. Bud was having a great time. After the party, Christopher couldn’t see Bud. He searched outside first, then went to his room where he found him crying.

“Hey, Bud. First birthday without your parents is the toughest. My first birthday without my family was really tough too. From that point forward, I kept my friends close. I still miss them, but I have Natalie, Bryan, Claudia, Sylvia and you. You’re my best friend ever.”

Bud whimpering, peered up at Christopher, “Your best friend ever?”

Christopher nodded, “Best friend ever.”

Bud gave Christopher an enormous hug, “You’re my best friend ever too Christopher.”

They spent the next hour playing and talking in Bud’s room.

As they emerged from his room, they found Sylvia in the front room reading.

Christopher looking at Bud, “Let’s find the others. it’s a pretty day outside to play. You find them and I’ll be out in a minute.”

“OK, see you in a few minutes Christopher.”

As Bud ran out the front door Sylvia looked at Christopher, “He’s missing his family?”

“It’s his first birthday without them. He took it pretty hard, but I think he is going to be OK.”

“The younger you are, the faster you get over tragedy. He has you now.”

“He has all of us now. We’re his adopted family.”

“You know, for a battle-hardened warrior, you have a soft spot there in the middle of your chest.”

“Bud reminds me of the childhood I didn’t have. I’ll make sure he and Claudia have the childhood they deserve. It may not be ideal, but they will have a childhood.”

“We both can work on that project. Let’s check on the children.”

Sylvia and Christopher walked out the front door to see Bud and Claudia playing. Natalie and Bryan were sitting back-to-back, scanning the countryside and talking to one another. Sitting in the grass, Christopher and Sylvia started talking as they watched the children.

As Christopher looked over the countryside, “Winter is just around the corner. Do the children need more clothes?”

“They will, Bud and Claudia are not getting smaller. They will need coats, shirts, pants and shoes. Bryan and Natalie are at the slow growth stage. They need to get their winter clothes from their house. I’ll make a list of clothes they will need. Tomorrow we could go to town and pickup clothes for Bud and Claudia. I haven’t been shopping for a long time. I could use a few things myself and you definitely need more clothes. We may need more party supplies too. Blue streamers and balloons are not the birthday decorations Claudia or Natalie would want for their birthday.”

 “You are probably right on the color selection. We’ll look for more decorations too. We’ll need hunting equipment and two or three freezers to hold the meat. Water is not an issue, but we need to consider growing vegetables and fruits. We’ll go to the nursery and check out their selection. We’ll pick up another truck too.”

“Men, always thinking about vehicles.”

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Cry Havoc Chapter 10 excerpts

Arriving at the Engineering Department, he found Vendetta talking with Bill.

As Warlord approached, “Hello. You must be Vendetta. I am Warlord, one of the Walking Pilot training officers.”

“Your here to take Vendetta away from me?” asked Bill.

“That’s the plan.” said Warlord.

Vendetta turned toward Warlord, “Good day, sir. I am pleased to meet you.”

“Are you ready to get to work?”

“Yes, Sir.

Glad to hear his enthusiasm, “Let’s do a quick tour of the Clan’s operations and training facilities.”

“Sounds good to me, sir.”

As they walked, Warlord introduced him to every Clan member he saw as he pointed out prominent buildings such as the Operations building, the bar and grille frequented by the Clan, Vendetta’s living quarters and the mess hall the Clan used. He showed Vendetta the simulator building and last but not least the Training building. As they entered, Warlord pointed out the various offices along the way to the eventual destination of the personnel office.

“This is personnel, where you’ll officially become a Clan member and a Walking Pilot. Here you’ll fill out your payroll, personal and contact information. Training starts tomorrow. You need to report to training at 0600 hours. Breakfast starts at 0500 hours for Clan members. I’ll give you a training schedule every day. One day we will train in the simulator. Other days you’ll be in the field. Training there is more realistic. We use live ammo and the other side shoots back. People refer to it as combat. Stay here a minute.” said Warlord.

He turned and retreated into his office. Upon his return he had three enormous books Vendetta imagined weighing 50 pounds each.

Warlord gave them to Vendetta, “Here are your study manuals for the Mars, Hermes, and Aragorn. These are the three bots we train in the simulator. Training in other bots will be conducted in the field. Memorize the systems of each bot and what each emergency enunciator light means by 0600 hours tomorrow. There’s only 40 enunciator lights on Aragon, 53 on the Hermes and 81 on the MARS.” Warlord saw Vendetta’s eyes getting bigger and bigger the longer he talked.

“It’s drinking from a fire hose. So, open wide and hold on. I’ll see you at 0600 hours. Oh. by the way the mess hall opens for lunch in 15 minutes. It might be a good time to feed your body while you are feeding your brain.” said Warlord.

He then disappeared into his office and shut his door. Vendetta standing in the hall entered the personnel office to complete his paperwork. Then, as Warlord suggested, he headed toward the mess hall for lunch. As Vendetta walked, clinging to his manuals, he kept thinking to himself, “How did I get here?”

Once he arrived, he placed the enormous books on a table he wanted to sit at, then left to choose his food. Shortly after returning, Fuqit and Achilles sat beside Vendetta.

“It looks as if someone is hooking up to Warlords fire hose.” Fuqit said.

Achilles looking questionably at his friend, “Don’t pay mind to him. I spend each solar day not listening to a thing he says. Warlord isn’t that hard to please. The only thing he checks is your judgment. If it’s good, you will get along just fine.”

Vendetta, peering up at Fuqit and Achilles as he ate, looked puzzled. Seeing Vendetta’s confusion with them, “You must be the Beacon Boy?” said Fuqit.

Vendetta taken aback, “Beacon Boy?”

Achilles while looking at Vendetta’s food and scooping potatoes from Vendetta’s tray with his finger, “Yeah, the Pilot Emergency Locator Beacon that Futu picked off the asteroid. You were the one in it, right?”

Vendetta cringed at Achille’s table manners, “Gentlemen, you have me at a disadvantage. You know my name, but I do not know yours.”

“Sorry, we’re not big on manners. I’m Achilles. This is my friend, with little to no couth, Fuqit. Welcome to the Dogs.”

“It’s good to meet you and Fuqit. I’m Vendetta.

“Did your mother give you that name?” asked Fuqit.

“Don’t pay mind to him he has Terete Syndrome. Is that your call sign, Vendetta?” asked Achilles.

Vendetta becoming even more concerned for his personal safety, “Yes. I got it from an old Earth movie called V for Vendetta.”

As Achilles was about to speak, Deer Hunter and Russ sat at the table. As they took their seat, Deer Hunter and Russ introduced themselves.

“You’re the new guy?” asked Deer Hunter.

“Yes, I am.” said Vendetta.

“So, what is your call sign?” asked Russ.

      “It’s Vendetta.” said Vendetta.

“I’ll call you V.”

As Vendetta was wondering what planet these guys came from, 2B sat at the
table.

 2B, talking to the Commanders, “Ok, you poor excuses for living organisms, cut Vendetta some slack. He developed and designed the Cryo-unit at headquarters being combed over by their engineers. From what I hear, they are still scratching their heads. He helped Bill in engineering to develop a prototype for a scanner to reveal stealth fighters and Hangars Ships. You can hold off on the wise cracks until he knows who he is dealing with.”

“All I wanted to do is study for training tomorrow.” Vendetta said.

Deer Hunter leaned over to Vendetta, “red, means shut down as soon as possible, yellow, means shutdown as soon as practical. Warlord isn’t expecting you to know each one. Make sure you know what a red and yellow light mean. Know the systems on the bots and the emergency procedures for each enunciator light. There’re similarities in the three. Eat your food and get the hell out of here. This area, with these guys present, isn’t conducive for study.”

Vendetta took Deer Hunter’s suggestion. Saying nothing, he ate his food and left to go back to his room. Vendetta remembered Deer Hunter’s advice concerning the meaning of red and yellow enunciators lights. While studying the different systems, he looked for similarities in each. By 0200 hours, he felt good about his knowledge of the three bots and set his alarm for three hours later.

The entire night, he dreamed of red and yellow lights.

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The Next Night

As the mobiles sped away Christopher radioed, “You can leave your fighting positions.”

Bud was excited jumping and running around, “We showed them.”

Christopher shaking his head, “We did. I hope that was their entire group, and not part of a larger one. They will lick their wounds for a day or two, perhaps. We’ll eat dinner here close to our fighting position in case they’re more vengeful than scared.”

“Bud, Claudia. Come with me. We’ll make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for everyone with cookies and milk.” said Sylvia.

“I’ll help too.” said Natalie.

“It looks like you and me, Bryan. You did well today.” said Christopher.

I’ve killed no one before today. I just made believe it was a video game. That far away it didn’t seem real, but it was, wasn’t it. said Bryan.

“Bryan, there’s honor in protecting your family. If you didn’t kill them, they would have killed you along with the rest of us as well. Grab your binoculars. We need to monitor these scavengers.” said Christopher.

In the kitchen, Natalie and Sylvia were making sandwiches as Bud and Claudia were filling one carafe with milk and another with coffee.

Sylvia could see Natalie shaking as she spread the peanut butter.

Sylvia put her hand on Natalie’s arm, “It’s going to be alright, dear. You did it to protect us all. Chances are you will have to do it again. Just think of Claudia and Bud when you are shooting. They’re worth protecting and yourself. You have more life to live, don’t let the scavengers end it. We are in control of our destiny. Not them.”

Natalie wiped away a tear, “I know you are right, Sylvia. I will be strong for everyone. That’s what women do best. We stay strong for our family.”

Sylvia put her arm around Natalie and gave her a hug, “That’s right my dear, we stay strong for our family. Now, let’s have a picnic with Christopher and Bryan.”

With a blanket on the ground, they ate their sandwiches and cookies, drank their milk and coffee close to the fighting positions., having a grand time.

The town was buzzing with activity, but calmed after midnight.

Bud and Claudia took their positions at 0700 hours to monitor the town. A picnic lunch was prepared, with sandwiches, potato chips and soda. Christopher asked Claudia what they had been seeing in town. Claudia reported mobiles moving all over town, but that was it. Christopher thought there’s something going to happen and happen soon. Christopher, after lunch, told Bud and Claudia to radio if anyone or anything heads toward the mountain.

Back in the cave, Christopher had a more serious conversation, “We may have visitors tonight. Natalie, Bryan, Sylvia. I need you all to get some rest before nightfall. If nothing else, just lay in your bed with your eyes closed until your watch. If they come tonight, whoever is here will bring Bud and Claudia to their fighting position. We don’t want them running around if they hear gunfire. They will be safer in their fighting position. If we work together as we did yesterday, we’ll be fine. Since I have the last watch, I’ll stay with the kids until I’m relieved. The rest of you get some rest.”

Christopher put on his helmet and headed toward Bud and Claudia.

After Christopher left, Sylvia turned to Natalie and Bryan, “Christopher has a good plan. Let’s get some rest. Set your alarms for your watch times. I’ll turn the base radio up so we can hear if they need us.”

They went to their rooms to rest as best they could.

At 1800 hours Natalie relieved the children and Christopher. Two hours into her watch, she noticed convoys of five to ten mobiles leaving town, but heading away from them. There were mobile lights moving everywhere.

Bryan started his watch at 2100 hours. He to saw mobiles leaving town, but two hours into his watch twenty mobiles gathered facing toward the mountain. He watched as they formed two lines of ten and started toward his location.

Bryan radioed, “Alert, Alert. Twenty mobiles heading this way. Alert, Alert.”

Soon everyone was in their fighting positions. While the twenty mobiles raced toward the mountain, Christopher reminded everyone of the night fighting plan. When the mobiles hit the barbed wire, the concrete post stopped all but five mobiles. After hitting the concrete posts, scavengers got out of their mobiles. Christopher ignited the first row of napalm. Lighting up the entire area with flames.

Christopher radioed, “Take out the windshields.”

Shots rang out, shattering glass in the five mobiles. Christopher then ignited the second row, setting the mobiles and some occupants on fire. The mobiles stopped and their occupants fled the burning cars.

Christopher then radioed, “Automatic weapons and flares.”

As machine gun and automatic rifle fire rang out, flares illuminated the area. After ten minutes there was no detectable movement.

Christopher radioed, “Cease fire and stop flares. Scopes to infrared. Call out targets”

The scans revealed 15 hiding in the tall grass. Christopher radioed, “You know what to do, call your targets.”

Targets were called out and shots hit their mark. Soon five more were killed. The remaining ten sprang up, running toward town. Christopher radioed, “Flares and automatic weapons.”

When the ten fell, Christopher called for a cease fire. He then took his binoculars and switched to infrared. There were some heat signatures, but they were fading. He radioed, “Any one hurt? I need a casualty report.”

Natalie radioed, “Just a few scratches.”

Bryan radioed, “A bullet grazed me but I’m OK.”

Sylvia radioed, “Everyone here is fine.”

Christopher radioed, “Sylvia, check them out. Leave Bud and Claudia in the fighting position. Put your scopes on infrared and scan the battlefield. Sylvia will be there soon.”

Sylvia checked out Bryan, Natalie, then Christopher. When Sylvia entered Christopher’s fighting position, she found him leaning on the wall with a gunshot wound to his left shoulder. “Can you walk?” asked Sylvia.

“I can walk.” said Christopher.

Sylvia radioed, “Bud, Claudia back to the house. Natalie, Bryan, be vigilant. I’m taking Christopher back to the house.”

Natalie radioed, “Is he alright?”

Sylvia radioed, “He’ll be fine. He needs a larger bandage. Keep us safe, you two.”

Bryan radioed, “Will do. It’s clear to go.”

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Is Anyone Out There?

They’d been moving everything they needed to the cave for the past three weeks. Today was the last trip. Once the vehicles were unloaded, Christopher and Bud backed the trucks down the side of the mountain at various points. The mobile was positioned on the crest of the mountain. After they repositioned everything, Bud had the distinct honor of lighting each one on fire, even the mobile.

As the four vehicles burned, Christopher sat in the tall grass with Bud on his shoulders eating candy, watching the thick black smoke billow up into the blue sky.

Christopher with the help of Bryan and Natalie, had over the last twenty-one days, wired the cave with the cold fusion generator producing enough electrical current to run a water heater, washer, dryer, and pumps for two baths with tub shower combinations. They equipped the kitchen with an electric range, five coolers with an ice maker, lower cabinets with a concrete countertop with a cave wall back splash and double sink. The cave floor was poured concrete to the drop off. Bedrooms were constructed on either side of the cavern to include a medical room. A large plastic covering spray painted camouflage to cover the cave entrance was made and put into place.

Claudia and Bud would scan for anyone playing hide and seek from the burned our mobile on the ridgeline. From their vantage point, they could see many kilometers in any direction. During the night Bryan, Natalie and Christopher took turns standing watch.

Another three weeks had passed since their arrival with no sign of any life. Once the front of the cave was closed in, Christopher, Natalie and Bryan alternating with Sylvia patrolled along the ridgeline in search of animal and plant life. They found abundant animal life and a variety of plants and trees to provide an additional food source. As the weeks passed, they were asking themselves, “Is there anyone out there?”

On the eleventh week, their question was answered. Five mobiles carrying scavengers pulled into town. Christopher watched them for two weeks as they moved from store to store and house to house, taking what they wanted. Two weeks later, another convoy of three mobiles carrying scavengers entered the town. They were not warmly greeted.

Christopher watched fire fights over territorial claims of stores and houses for many weeks. Before long there were, by Christopher’s estimation, one hundred scavengers from distinct groups claiming sections of the town.

It was time to ready their defenses they had in place. Fighting positions along the ridgeline were stocked with ammunition and grenades taken from the police station. Barbed wire fencing with concrete parking bumpers as post, had been strung below the top of the tall grass for one hundred meters further up the slope from the third truck. They also rigged flash-bang grenades in each of the staged trucks. Christopher designed the booby-traps, barbed wire and bumpers to slow them down long enough for sniper rounds to kill as many as possible. Natalie and Bryan had proven themselves to be quite the marksman, capable of hitting a paper plate from five hundred meters. After the barbed wire, Christopher buried thirty barrels, staggered in two rows along the one-hundred-meter defensive line. Each of the thirty barrels had a flash-bang grenade sealed into the bottom of the barrel, then filled with hydraulic fluid. Wires running back to Christopher’s fighting position enabled him to ignite the barrels spewing a fire ball of home-made napalm.

As the fighting increased in town. Christopher knew a weak group would try to escape over the mountain or the strongest group would want to explore the other side of the mountain for more resources.

The next day at 1300 hours Bud and Claudia radioed five mobiles were coming from town heading for the mountain. Christopher, Natalie, Bryan and Sylvia ran to their fighting positions. Christopher, Natalie, and Bryan had sniper rifles with night-vision scopes and automatic rifles in their fighting positions. Sylvia along with Bud and Claudia manned a machine gun. They watched as the mobiles moved up the slope. They drove by the first truck, staged at five hundred meters. As the mobiles progressed, they stopped at the second truck to investigate. Their first mistake.

The second truck, positioned at three hundred and fifty meters, afforded an excellent distance for them to snipe their enemy. Christopher radioed, “Call out your targets.”

Four people from a mobile got out and moved toward the truck. Natalie and Bryan called out their targets. Christopher would clean up the remaining two. As the four reached the truck Christopher radioed, “Now.”

Three shots were fired with the sound of one. Three of the four fell, followed shortly by the fourth. All now dead on the ground.

Then they made their second mistake. Each of the four remaining mobiles emptied and took cover in the tall grass. Christopher, seeing their lack of tactics, radioed, “Hold fire. If they move forward, we can reengage.”

After ten minutes, the confused group sent eight back to the first truck as the other eight moved toward the third truck. Christopher then instructed Natalie and Bryan to select their targets and be ready when he called. He radioed Sylvia to fire one shot from her pistol on his mark.

As the eight approached the first truck, he radioed, “Targets selected?”

Natalie and Bryan confirmed their targets.

Then Christopher radioed, “Now Sylvia.”

When the pistol shot rang out, all the scavengers stopped. Three dropped immediately by the truck. With the scavengers separated and in the open, Christopher instructed Natalie and Bryan to fire when a target appeared. Natalie handled targets on the right side of the first truck. Bryan had responsibility for targets on the left. In less than three minutes, two more scavengers fell victim to Natalie and Bryan. Within 10 minutes, eight bodies laid dead as they tried to make it back to the others.

As bullets zipped over their heads, the eight trying to make their way to the third truck were panicking. After the gunfire stopped, they thought it was ok to move back to their mobiles. There was their third mistake. Christopher, Natalie and Bryan took out another three as the remaining five ran as fast as they could back to the second truck. They each jumped into a mobile and sped away back to town. The engagement was over in less than thirty minutes.

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Introduction to Cry Havoc

First book in my sci-fi series A saga of Dogs of War-A Story of Mercenaries

   In the year 2166, corruption and the lack of faith in government grew. The people revolted. As a result, six large multi-national corporations, employing over half the world’s population, joined in a campaign with the help of celebrities, news and social media to overthrow the government.

The corporations declared themselves sovereign corporate nations. They abolished militaries and police forces. Making the only acceptable forms of payment Platinum, Gold or Silver credits instead of paper and coins.

The six individual nations, referred to as the Big-Six, closed their borders along with other measures. This resulted in minor disputes escalating into deadly conflicts between security forces.

They ignored the environment, which set into motion a cataclysmic event of constant earthquakes and volcanic eruption. As these events increased, the Big-Six began its search for a new home.

Each of the Big-Six explored Mars for areas to build their corporate colonies. A race to colonize began. XTECH and SME, were the first two corporations to reach Mars with their Artificial Relocation Communities (ARC) in 2175.

Boom Associates in early 2175, sent teams of surveyors, engineers and laborers to Mars. However, they never reached their destination because of faulty navigation sensors landing them in one of the harshest areas of Mars. Their colonies were built underground to escape the harsh environment. They moved to Mars four years later.

Virtual Visions, Inc. with expertise in virtual reality-based software and Space Enviro LTD. with skill in environmental design, settled on Phobos the larger of Mar’s two moons in 2179.

Enceladus Services, a venture capital and investment firm, settled on the moon Deimos that same year.

Dissidents fled and created Free Towns because of the oppressive rules of the Bix Six. Free Towns were lawless areas the corporations tolerated. To prevent the conflicts of the past, a Trade Federation was created. This new entity would be the middleman for the Big-Six. It took orders, made deliveries, and collected payment. A commission was charged for each transaction.

The Big-Six grew on Earth through power and influence, their presence on Mars did not quench their thirst. To grow their power and influence, they secretly sponsored Proxy Clans to conduct their covert activities. They recruited Proxy Clans from Free Towns across Mars and its two moons.

Through the Trade Federation, they supplied their Clans with Battle Robots, Hangar Ships to transport the Clan and bases from which to conduct their operations. Each Clan was paid a commission from the proceeds of raids they conducted on other corporations and smugglers.

Mercenary Proxy Clans where an absolute monarchy. As in ancient times, the Clan leaders ruled with absolute authority and absolute power. Clan Leaders who oppressed its Clan members with oppressive rules and fewer commissions led to Break-off Clans and Independent Mercenary groups.

Independent Mercenaries worked in small groups of two or three. They associated themselves with smugglers, who contracted them to deliver a wide variety of goods to their clients from Platinum to Gold or Silver and rare artifacts left behind on Earth. They lived on Earth in their Battle Robots, or in small shelters. Their life was hard, but profitable.

One Break-off Clan dedicated to the Warrior Code, predicated on an ancient belief of Honor, Dedication and Glory emerged. 

Here is their story as they embarked on their journey sixty years after the cataclysm ravaged Earth.

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Life Lesson # 41

The Cat, the Cock, and the Young Mouse

A very young Mouse, who had never seen anything of the world, almost came to grief the very first time he ventured out. And this is the story he told his mother about his adventures.

“I was strolling along very peaceably when, just as I turned the corner into the next yard, I saw two strange creatures. One of them had a very kind and gracious look, but the other was the most fearful monster you can imagine. You should have seen him.

“On top of his head and in front of his neck hung pieces of raw red meat. He walked about restlessly, tearing up the ground with his toes, and beating his arms savagely against his sides. The moment he caught sight of me he opened his pointed mouth as if to swallow me, and then he let out a piercing roar that frightened me almost to death.”

Can you guess who it was that our young Mouse was trying to describe to his mother? It was nobody but the Barnyard Cock and the first one the little Mouse had ever seen.

“If it had not been for that terrible monster,” the Mouse went on, “I should have made the acquaintance of the pretty creature, who looked so good and gentle. He had thick, velvety fur, a meek face, and a look that was very modest, though his eyes were bright and shining. As he looked at me he waved his fine long tail and smiled.

“I am sure he was just about to speak to me when the monster I have told you about let out a screaming yell, and I ran for my life.”

“My son,” said the Mother Mouse, “that gentle creature you saw was none other than the Cat. Under his kindly appearance, he bears a grudge against every one of us. The other was nothing but a bird who wouldn’t harm you in the least. As for the Cat, he eats us. So be thankful, my child, that you escaped with your life, and, as long as you live, never judge people by their looks.”

The Moral to the Story: Do not trust alone to outward appearances.

Fancy covers do not make a good book. So never judge a book by its cover.

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Time to Execute the Plan

For nine hours they scanned the town and roads. When darkness fell, everyone loaded into Bryan’s mobile. Bryan was driving. First, he dropped Natalie, Bud and Christopher at the dealership. From there, Bryan, his Aunt Sylvia and Claudia drove toward the hospital to collect medical supplies.

Christopher, Natalie and Bud found two medium flatbed trucks and drove them back to the Bryan’s house. When they reached Bryan’s house, they drove Natalie’s mobile back to the dealership for two more trucks.

As they drove back to the dealership, Christopher looked at Natalie. “We want two heavy-duty trucks with sides. We will leave your mobile at the dealership. You can pick out the color of the truck. The truck will be yours. We’ll keep it at our new home.”

“Can I have a truck too?” Bud asked.

“No, but I’ll let you set the other three on fire. What do you think?” Christopher said.

“Wow. I get to set three trucks on fire? Great, I can eat my candy while I watch them burn.” 

They reached the dealership and headed back to Bryan’s house with a blue truck for Natalie. Christopher let Bud pick a red truck to set on fire. When they reached the house, Christopher raised the garage door in search of tools. He removed the unnecessary seats and put them in the garage. While Bryan’s crew was at the hospital, Natalie’s crew hit the police station. They grabbed automatic weapons, ammo, vests, and night vision equipment. Next was the hardware store. Christopher gave each of them items from his list to take to the truck. After the hardware store was the grocery. While Christopher and Natalie worked on collecting items on their list. Bud filled his backpack with all the candy it could hold. He went to the truck, emptied the backpack and went back for more.

When he returned to help Natalie, she looked at him, “What took you so long? Your supposed to get your candy and then help me.”

Bud looked up at Natalie, “I had a hard time choosing what I wanted.”

“Yeah, right? Here’s a bag, put the cleaners on the shelves at the end of the counter in it. Can you do that?”

“I’ll do it. You could say please you know.”

“Please, go get the cleaner.”

Bud smiled and ran off with his bag.

By the time they finished with the grocery, it was midnight. As they pulled into the driveway, Bryan greeted them., “I see you made some purchases at the dealership.”

Christopher reached into the back of the truck and pulled out three-wheel-lock devices. Then looked toward Bryan, “Help Natalie get the seats out of the garage. Then pull in the loaded truck. We don’t want it outside tonight. Have you been scanning since you came home.?”

“Yes, I only saw the brake lights of the truck. There was no one else.”

“In the morning, take the bulbs out of the rear and front lights of the trucks. Then put them in the toolbox. Leave the bulbs in the truck you put in the garage”

As Christopher immobilized the three trucks on the street, Bryan and Natalie finished their tasks. Christopher carried Bud into the house and closed the garage door.

Holding Bud, he looked at Sylvia. “Who sleeps where?

“We each have our own room, but Tharon’s room is empty.”, Sylvia said.

“Natalie, can Bud sleep with you tonight? I will sleep on the sofa.”

Natalie took Bud, then looked at Sylvia, “Is there a bath in her room?”

“There is a bath in every bedroom. A powder room is by the front door, dear.” Sylvia said.

“Let’s get some sleep. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day.” Christopher said.

As Bryan and Natalie left the front room, Christopher turned to Sylvia, “Where you able to get everything?”

“There was much more there, but we loaded the car to the ceiling. The rear compartment is full too. I found a translator for Bud. I’ll implant it in the morning.”

“Good, I know the tape is bothering him it’s getting red.”

“It’s probably an allergic reaction to the prolong use of the tape. I have an ointment to clear-up the rash. I’ll put it on his ear after I administer the implant.

“We’ll unload the mobile tomorrow. Are there any large items you need?”

“An exam table and lights would be nice.”

“The table is fine, but we can’t afford the noise of a generator. Unless you know where a cold fusion device is to generate power?”

“The backup power supply at the hospital is cold fusion.”

“How large is it?” 

“I’d judge it to be two meters long and less than a meter in height.”

“Can you find your way back?”

“I’m sure I could. It has to be one of the taller buildings in town.”

“After we complete our scans tomorrow, you and I will look for the generator.”

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Making a Plan

The sounds of Bud and Natalie, in the kitchen, wakened Christopher. He rolled over to see the alarm clock glaring 0730 hours. He got up, dressed, then headed to the kitchen to find Natalie and Bud at the table eating their breakfast and talking.

“Good morning, sleepyhead.”, Bud said.

“Good morning, Bud, who took a nap yesterday. Why can’t you take a nap when you are with me.?”, Christopher asked.

“Natalie tells better stories. Yours are scary sometimes.”

Natalie stood up from the table, “My turn to make breakfast. Your usual?”

Christopher nodded, “But coffee first, please.”

After a few minutes Natalie brought Christopher a cup and a pot of coffee.

As he was drinking his coffee, “I ran into Bryan with a Y last night. Do you know him, his sister and aunt?”

“Wow. He is here? I knew he had a sister. She’s a few years older than Bud. He talked about an aunt, but I never met her.”, Natalie said.

“Can you find you way to his house?”

“By mobile it is not far. I drove to his house while I was learning to drive. We can take my father’s mobile.”

“After breakfast and we clean up, we need to see if we have anyone playing hide and seek. If we are clear, we can drive. How long would it take to walk?”

“His house is over five miles by road.”

“Let’s hope no one is playing this morning.”

After breakfast, with teeth brushed, Natalie and Bud took their positions. Christopher went to the roof’s peak. After an hour of scanning the town and roads leading into it. It was time to leave for Bryan’s house.

They loaded into the mobile in the garage. Natalie drove. At 1000 hours, they pulled into the driveway. Bryan met them at the front door.

“Natalie.”, Bryan said.

Natalie ran to him and gave him a hug, “Good to see you Bryan. I thought I was the only one left in town.”

Christopher glad to see Natalie was the right Natalie, “We need to get inside.”

Introductions were made. Claudia, Bryan’s nine-year-old sister, went to Bud, “You are a cute little boy.”

Bud visibly upset. Christopher warned, “Claudia, he is touchy about his age. You don’t want a fight on your hands.”

“Let’s just say he’ll be seven in six months.”, Natalie said.

They all were seated at the kitchen table with coffee, milk and cookies. Sylvia, Bryan’s aunt, told Christopher their story of the war and how scared everyone was. Tharon, Bryan’s mother kept begging her to come live with them since her husband Mark was killed a month ago in the war. She lived in the city and didn’t own a mobile. Bryan and Claudia drove to the city to bring her to town. When they saw the large aircraft, they hid under the canopy of a refueling point. They spent the night and the next few days. When they saw no aircraft, they quickly drove to the house. Arriving at the house three days ago.

Christopher listening to Sylvia’s account of their trip, “You said you lived in the city. What did you do there?”

“I was a nurse for one of the largest hospitals in the city. I worked in the trauma center.” Sylvia said.

Christopher looked at Natalie and Bryan. “You two get on the roof. Bud, give Bryan your binoculars. Each of you are to scan 180 degrees. If you see anyone, let us know.”

Natalie grabbed Bryan and headed to the roof, “Come on Bryan. I’ll show you how we find people playing hide and seek. “

Bud scowled at Christopher, “I can’t win the game if I’m down here.”

“I declare you the winner for today. You can have all the candy you can carry tonight.”

Bud hearing Christopher’s decree went back to playing with Claudia.

Sylvia put her hand on Christopher’s arm, “What is all the alarm about?”

Christopher looked at Sylvia with a stern face, “When supplies run out in the city and nearby towns, people are going to turn into scavengers. When scavengers can’t find what they need, they will take it by force. We only have a week, maybe two, before they come. We need to take what we can and move to higher ground. There we can protect ourselves.”

“Where do we go?”

“Bud and I have a place in the mountains. It provides everything we need. We start tonight gathering what we need. I need you to make a list of medical supplies. Do you drive?”

“Yes, I can. I haven’t driven in five years.”

“Bud, tell Bryan I need to talk to him.”

Bud grabbed Claudia’s hand and went upstairs to get Bryan.

When Bryan came into the kitchen, Christopher asked, “Have you spotted anyone on the road or lurking between houses?”

Bryan catching his breath, “No one. The town is deserted.”

“Do you know the location of a hospital and mobile dealership with medium trucks?”

“Sure. Why?”

“If we see nothing before nightfall, I need you to drive your Aunt Sylvia and Claudia to the hospital for supplies. Natalie, Bud, and I will go to the mobile dealership and get four trucks. Tell Natalie she is to take a lunch Break at 1130 hours. She’ll relieve you at 1200 hours. Then you can have lunch. When it’s dark, you’ll make the hospital run. Questions?”

“No, sir. Loud and clear.”

Sylvia, when you make out your medical list, get Bud a translator. I have been taping one to his ear the past week. Don’t ask me where I got it.

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Now there’s Three

After Bud’s account of Christopher’s acts of kindness toward him. Natalie put down her rifle, “I’m sorry, but when I saw the military rifle, I just freaked. I have been alone and scared for the past week. I guess I’m getting paranoid. Can you forgive me?”

Bud went to her and leaned his head on her hip. “I know I was scared too until I found Christopher under the rock. You won’t be scared anymore.”

Christopher stood, “Being paranoid during times like these is not necessarily a bad thing. What caliber is your rifle? Does it shoot bullets or is it a pulse rifle?”

Natalie put the rifle on the table, “I don’t know? I saw it in the store and thought I might scare the soldiers away. I don’t even know how to load it.”

Christopher picked up Bud, “I think Natalie could use a hug. You in?”

Bud nodded.

Christopher then looked at Natalie, “You in?”

Natalie lowered her head and fell into Christopher and Bud crying, holding on to them tightly.

After a few minutes she straightened and wiped away her tears, “I’m in.”

Christopher looked at Bud and then Natalie, “This calls for a celebration. I’ll get cookies and milk from the replicator and we will celebrate Natalie joining us.”

Natalie looked at Bud. “You’re right, I had candy in the bags. Would you like some? I always have candy when I eat cookies and drink milk.”

As Natalie and Bud finished the cookies and most of the candy, she took Bud upstairs to show him her brothers’ room where they played together for over an hour. While they played upstairs, Christopher took the map from his field pack, opening it onto the table to view the area on this side of the mountain. The map revealed towns thirty miles to the east and south, but nothing for some distance to the west and north.

 Glancing at the clock on the wall. He called out, “Bud, Natalie. I need you both to help me.”

As they came downstairs, “Bud, I need you and Natalie to see if there is anyone playing hide and seek. Did your father have binoculars, Natalie?”

Natalie said, “Yes, he used them to watch Felix play sports and watch birds. He kept them in his backpack. Do you want me to get them?”

“Yes. Bud, here are your binoculars.”

Natalie ran to her father’s room. She came back in the room, showing Christopher the binoculars, “Is this what you are looking for?”

Christopher looked at Natalie carrying the binoculars, “Just what the doctor ordered. Bud, can you show Natalie how we find hide and seekers with the binoculars.”  

“You bet. But when I win, I don’t want twenty pieces of hard candy. I want real candy.”, Bud said.

“Real candy it is. Natalie may give you some competition, so you better have a sharp eye out for anyone who is playing.”, Christopher said.

They went upstairs, where they were positioned by Christopher and given an area to scan. Christopher went to the roof’s peak. He wanted to if others were using the same store. Soon it was lunchtime. Christopher asked Natalie for his rifle and to fix Bud and herself some lunch. He continued to look for others as nightfall approached.

Christopher, back in the house, found Natalie and Bud on the sofa asleep, Natalie holding Bud. He gently nudged Natalie to wake her. Natalie slowly opened her eyes to see Christopher, “I’m sorry. We were just sitting here after lunch talking. Bud asked for a story and I guess we both fell asleep.”

“It’s fine. Both of you are tired. Can Bud sleep in your room tonight? He likes to wake up with someone close. I am getting dinner and then I’ll go back on the roof. Can I get on the roof from Felix’s room?”

Natalie holding Bud, “He can sleep with me in my room tonight. Felix’s window faces the other side of the house.”

“It will work. I’ll sleep in Felix’s room. After I get dinner, I’ll scan a few more hours. There must be others in this town.”

Natalie took Bud upstairs. Christopher ate a quick dinner and then went back on the roof. Hours passed. At midnight Christopher saw a young man darting between houses heading toward the store, but because of his angle of sight from the roof he lost him before he reached the store. He thought, “What the hell, I’m going for it.”

He slung the rifle on his back and headed to the store. When he reached the street, he ran at full speed. He entered the store and crouched behind a counter to listen. Something hit the floor. Christopher headed toward the sound slowly. There he saw a young man Natalie’s age filling a backpack with replicator packs. Christopher, with his hands in the air, walked around the end of the aisle, “Hello young man. My name is Christopher. I’m not here to harm you. What is your name?”

The young man, startled, spun around trying to run but fell to the floor with his backpack on top of him. Christopher stood still, “I saw you from Natalie and Felix’s house. Did you go to school with them?”

The young man surprised to hear Natalie’s and Felix’s name, “You know Natalie and her brother?”

“Felix was taken, but Natalie hid on the roof. Bud and I found Natalie and spent last night at her house.”

“Natalie is here?”

“Yes, she’s with Bud at the house now. Would you like to talk to her?”

“I need to get these packs to my aunt and my little sister, but yes, I would like to see Natalie.”

“You take the packs to your family. Does Natalie know where you live?”

“Sure, we studied together last year.”

“I’ll bring Natalie and Bud to your house at 1000 hours tomorrow. What is your name? Natalie can’t show me where you live if she doesn’t know whose house she’s going to.”

“My name is Bryan with a Y.”

“OK, Bryan with a Y. Will you and your family be there when we arrive at 1000 hours?”

“We’ll be there. There’s no other place to go.”

Christopher backed around the aisle, “See you tomorrow.”

He ran back to Bud and Natalie.

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Day Six.

Christopher and Bud headed toward the town as darkness covered the land. Both walked for hours to reach the town before daylight. They entered the house where they thought the girl lived as the night retreated from the sun.

“I am Christopher, the smaller one is Bud. We’ve been watching you for two days. Bud and I are fleeing whoever is taking people away too. I have walked for eight hours and need rest. We’re not here to harm you, and we hope you wish us no harm. Bud and I will sleep in the front room. Can we talk when we wake up?”

Christopher laid Bud on one sofa and himself on another, covering Bud and himself with their thermal blankets.

Four hours later, Christopher felt a tug on his blanket. He made a grunting noise, and the tugging stopped. A minute later he felt another tug, “If breakfast is ready. Just ask me to get up.”

He heard a young girl’s wavering voice, “Put your hands where I can see then and sit up.”

Christopher complied putting his hands above his head and turning onto his back putting his feet on the floor. There before him was a slender girl, he guessed to be sixteen, pointing a rifle barrel a meter from his chest.

Christopher looking up at her, “I assume you heard us come in last night and introduced ourselves. I’m Christopher and my little friend over there is Bud. What is your name?”

She walked over to Bud sleeping, “You have a young boy traveling with you? You’re not one of them, are you? What are you doing here?”

“Yes, Bud travels with me. No, I am not one of them. We are here to talk to you and hope we can help protect each other. It’s just simple safety in numbers. Can you help us, young lady?”, Christopher asked.

Bud then woke up rubbing his eyes, “Can we have breakfast now I’m hungry.” Bud then saw the young girl. “You’re the one we saw playing hide and seek yesterday. Did you have candy in the bags? I told Christopher you had candy in the bags, did you? Why are your arms in the air, Christopher? Wow, is she a bandit?”

The young girl looked at Christopher, “Does he have an off button?”

Christopher motioned Bud to come over and sit with him, “Miss, we mean you know harm, other than a lot of questions. You know our names can you tell us yours?”

As she lowered the gun, “Natalie. My name is Natalie.”

“I see you have a replicator. Bud and I walked all night and we are hungry. Can I fix you breakfast too? Bacon, eggs, juice or do you drink coffee?”

Natalie sitting at the table in the kitchen, “I drink breakfast tea.”

Bud sat beside Natalie at the table, “My sister and mother always had breakfast tea. What is it with girls and tea? I like juice. Christopher drinks coffee, don’t you, Christopher?”

Christopher at the replicator, “Yes, Bud, I love coffee.”

As he placed breakfast on the table, he told Natalie the story of Bud and himself, how they met and how they knew she was there. The only part of the story Christopher left out was the part of him being a Star Fighter Pilot for the invading army.

Bud sipping his juice, “Why are you here alone Natalie?”

As tears formed in Natalie’s eyes, she told the story of the day the soldiers collected everyone in the town. Every night she would open her window and sit on the roof looking at the stars until he grew sleepy, then she would crawl into bed for the night. Early the next morning she heard shouting and furniture being tossed around. Scared, she darted out the open window and onto the roof. She stayed close to the window as the soldiers searched her room. When she heard them leave, she peered inside. Seeing the room clear she ran to her closet hiding behind her clothes, where she stayed quietly for hours. Hearing large aircraft moving around, then away from her house, she spent the night in her closet. The next day when she awoke, she listened for the soldiers. When she heard none, she came out, dressed and went downstairs. Everyone was gone.

Bud patted Natalie’s arm, “You’re not alone anymore. Christopher and me are here.”

Natalie wiped a tear from her eye, “How old are you Bud, six?”

Bud bristled, “Six. I’m six and a half. I’ll be seven in six months. Can Natalie come to my birthday party, Christopher?”

Collecting the dishes from the table, Christopher looked at Natalie, “She is welcome if she wants to come, it’s up to her.”

Bud now tugging on Natalie’s arm, “Will you come? Will you come? Please, Natalie.”

Natalie with a glow coming to her face, “I’ll come to your party”

Bud running around the table suddenly stopped and looked at Natalie. “Are you bringing me a present?”

“I don’t know what you like. We just met. Besides, I have six months to get to know you. After I know what you like and dislike, then I will have a good idea of what you may want or need. Does that sound good?”

“I’ll make a list for you. You can pick a present for me from the list.”

“That’s a good idea too.”

Christopher watching all this unfold, “Bud you know what comes next. We get cleaned up and brush our teeth.”

He looked at Natalie, “Natalie, may we use your shower and a bathroom to get cleaned up. We have been camping. We need to do laundry too. Is that Ok with you?”

“You can use the bathroom on this level. There’s a washer and dryer there. You’re welcome to use it. I have mine upstairs.”

Christopher nodded, “Grab you backpack Bud, time to get the dirt from behind our ears off.”

While Christopher and Bud were cleaning up, Natalie tidied up. She found Christopher’s rifle, a belt with a knife and pistol between the sofa cushions. It startled her. Her mind began racing back to the disappearance of her family. She grabbed the rifle and the belt running to her room, hiding them. As she came downstairs, she took her rifle and sat at the kitchen table with the rifle pointing at the bathroom door, shaking. When they came out Christopher saw Natalie at the table shaking, the gun pointed at him.

Christopher walked to the sofa and sat, “Natalie, why are you pointing the rifle at me again. I thought we were building some trust between us?”

Natalie hardly able to speak, “You have a military rifle, pistol and knife, why?”

“Why, do you have a rifle?”, Christopher asked.

“To protect myself from soldiers. You’re a soldier. You lied to me.”, Natalie said.

“He’s not a soldier. I found him under a rock in his underwear. He was lost too. He found the gun and pistol at my house on a soldier my dad killed before they took him, my mom and sister away. I saw it from my hiding place.”, Bud said.

Natalie looked at Bud, “You saw it?”

“Sure, I saw it. Where do you think I got this?” Bud showed Natalie the tape behind his ear. “Christopher cut it out of a dead soldier and taped it to my ear so I could hear him talk to me. You know kids don’t have a translator until they go to school. Girls, they remember nothing.”

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Day Five

After breakfast, with them both cleaned up and teeth brushed, they played hide and seek until it was time for lunch. Bud had asked to play, but Christopher’s concern of being caught unaware preyed on his mind. The fort provided him views in every direction over a great distance. Not seeing anyone for two days helped. Only one thing concerned him, the dim light in town.

As Christopher was preparing lunch, he thought, “If they were to stay here, they needed to resupply.”

After lunch, they spent the day at the fort. There they scanned the countryside on both sides of the mountain. Christopher that day taught Bud a basic military skill of observation.

Christopher holding the binoculars looked at Bud, “You want to look through the binoculars? Maybe you will see someone playing hide and go seek?”

Bud with a look of amazement, “Can I?”

“Of course, but you have to look for anyone playing hide and go seek. You can’t look at your fingers.”

“If I find someone playing hide and go seek, can we tag them, it?”

“You and I can play it, but this game is fun too. In this game we hide and the other side hides. No one wants to be found. If we can sneak up on them and tag them without them knowing we are there, then we can tag them.”

“That sounds boring.”

“You told me you were a big boy? I’m a big boy and I enjoy the game. It’s fun sneaking up behind others and tagging them. Let’s see if anyone is playing hide and go seek in the town. You get five points for everyone you find.”

“Playing find the bump is better, but I will play this game.”

Christopher adjusted the binoculars for him and taught him how to move binoculars across the terrain. After 10 minutes, “I see one, I see one hiding. I get five points.”

Christopher looking at Bud, “Not so fast young man. I need to see who is hiding to give you the points. Where are they?”

Christopher took the binoculars as Bud pointed to the town. “You see that ugly yellow house? Look this way, you’ll see her.”

Christopher, seeing where Bud pointed, looked in the binoculars in time to see a girl, maybe sixteen, running between houses.

“Ok, Ok. you get your five points. Now you need to follow her and see where she goes. If you find out where she is hiding, you win the game. I’m going to the cave and bring something back. You keep watching.”

“Sure. I’m going to win. I’m going to win.”

“Is she hiding?”

“No. She is still running from house to house.”

“OK, I’ll be right back.”

Christopher ran to the cave, picked up the rifle and ran back to Bud. Christopher laid beside Bud, “Well, have you won the game?”

Bud silent, suddenly, “Yes, I won. I won. What do I get for winning? I found out where she’s hiding.”

“Hold on big guy, you can’t say you have won and collect the prize. Where is she hiding?”

“She went into the building with the big red letters. You can’t see her now. But that is where she is hiding.”

“You keep looking. If she comes out, it’s not her hiding place.”

Christopher looked through the rifle’s magnified sight and found the building Bud had referenced. Unable to read the words, it looked as if it was a grocery store, “She shopping for food.”

Christopher looking through the sight, “Is she still in the building?”

“She is still there. She is for sure hiding in there.”

 “Well, young man, you won again. You are good at this game.”

Bud turned to him with excitement, “What is my prize?”

“All the candy you can eat.”

Bud squinting his eyes, “You have candy and you haven’t shared it with me. You are supposed to share.”

“Don’t be mad. I have eaten none of the candy. I was saving it as prizes for whoever won our games.”

Bud, understanding Christopher was not hiding the candy, looked through the binoculars again, “She’s coming out. She has bags with her this time. She has candy for sure.”

Through the sight Christopher saw the bags of food. Christopher and Bud followed her back to the house.      

“Can I get my prize now?” Bud asked.

Christopher sitting up, “Of course young man. First see if you find anyone playing on this side.”

After one last check, they headed back to the cave for dinner. After dinner Bud got his prize. Twenty pieces of hard candy.

Bud, seeing the candy, looked at Christopher. “That is not much candy. Are you holding out on me?”

Christopher, his hands up, “All I have id the twenty pieces. If you walk tonight, we’ll get more candy. What do you think?”

Bud looked up as if he was thinking, “How much candy?”

“How much can you carry?”

“Can I take my backpack?

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