Stranger: Part Two

Written by Derrick Nadeau

 

Recap:  Scott awoke from a horrible dream in which he was attacked by a phantom crying woman with a slit throat.  Feeling exhausted by the stress of the dream, Scott went to work and tried to forget the horrors he had dreamed the night before.  While at work, he began to hear a strange voice he could not identify saying horrible things to him.  Scott ran to the bathroom in an attempt to regain his senses.  When he looked at himself in the mirror, he saw the face of a stranger staring back at him.

Scott stumbled back in horror until his back hit the wall opposite the mirror he had seen the strange face in.  Scott wanted to scream, but found that his voice had been momentarily stolen from him.  Scott stared at the floor of the bathroom, shaking his head furiously.  Scott then took a few deep breaths in an attempt to calm his nerves while trying to convince himself to check the mirror again.  Trembling uncontrollably, Scott took one last deep breath and forced himself to look in the mirror once again.  Scott was instantly relieved when he saw his own face staring back at him.

“I must be more tired than I realized,” Scott whispered to himself.  “I’m starting to hallucinate now.”

At that moment, the door to the bathroom burst open, startling Scott and rattling his already ravaged nerves.  Scott’s boss Mark stormed into the bathroom, looking extremely upset.

“What are you doing in here,” Mark growled.  “You are late.  Quit messing around in here and get to work already!”

Scott opened his mouth to speak, but was frozen by fear when he caught another glimpse of the stranger in the mirror directly behind Mark.

“Who is this jackass,” the  stranger asked angrily.  “What is his problem?”

Scott, feeling himself begin to tremble again, could only shake his head in response.

“Why are you shaking your head,” Mark snapped.  “Are you telling me no?”

“You really going to let this tool talk to you like that,” the stranger in the mirror asked.  “Seriously?”

“Oh no,” Scott whispered.

“What was that,” Mark asked.  “What did you just say?  Speak up.”

“I,” Scott tried to speak, but could not think of the right words to say.

“You don’t have to put up with this shit,” the stranger in the mirror snapped.  “This guy ain’t nothing.  Just get rid of him.”

Scott stared at the stranger in the mirror, feeling his body shaking uncontrollably, shaking his head frantically.

“What are you staring at,” Mark barked, turning to face the mirror.

“Now’s your chance man,” the stranger said.  “while his back is turned.  Take him out.”

Scott’s eyes grew wide and his mouth fell open as he continued to stare back at the mirror in horror.

“What are you doing, just staring at yourself in the mirror,” Mark asked angrily.

“Seriously,” the stranger growled.  “I can’t take this asshole any more.  If you won’t do it, then I’m gonna have to do it for you.”

Scott shouted out the word no as he grabbed his boss and pushed him away from the mirror.  Mark slammed against the nearby wall of one of the stalls, nearly knocking it down.  Scott slammed his fist into the mirror, shattering the glass and tearing open his arm in the process.  As blood began to flow down his arm, the sound of laughter echoed throughout the bathroom.  Mark let out a groan as he slid down the bathroom stall, holding his stomach as he slumped to the floor.  Scott looked over to his boss on the floor, and was shocked to see blood pouring out of a wound in his stomach.  Scott moved towards his boss, but stumbled over something on the bathroom floor.  Scott looked down to see what had tripped him up, and saw a blood covered pocket knife lying there.

“Oh no,” Scott whispered.  “No, no, no, no ,no!”

Scott looked back to the shattered mirror, but only saw his own face reflected in the shards.

“What did you do,” Scott cried, searching for signs of the stranger.  “What did you do?”

Mark let out another groan, jarring from his search and pulling him back to the reality of the situation.

“What am I going to do,” Scott asked, kneeling beside his boss to check his wound.

“I suggest getting the hell out of there,” the stranger’s disembodied voice replied.

“Leave,” Scott repeated.  “I have to leave.  I can’t stay here.  I can’t let them find me like this.”

Scott reached over, picked up the pocket knife on the floor, and put it in his pocket as he stood up.  Scott turned to face the bathroom door, but halted himself.

“You need to do something about that arm,” the stranger’s voice said.

“My arm,” Scott said, staring down at his bleeding appendage.  “I have to do something about this.”

Scott walked over to the paper towel dispenser on the wall, emptied it, and hastily wrapped the paper towels around his quivering arm.  Scott held the towels to his bloody gash and took several deep breaths in an attempt to calm his anxious nerves.  Scott glanced back at the broken mirror, surprised to find the stranger face staring back at him in the broken shard.

“What are you waiting for,” the stranger bellowed.  “Get out of here!”

Scott took one last glance at his boss lying on the bathroom floor, bleeding to death, and quickly exited the room.  As he walked to the employee entrance, Scott’s eyes darted around the hallway, searching for the eyes of his coworkers looking back at him.  Scott was relieved that he did not come across a single person as he rushed out into the parking lot of his plant and ran to his car in the nearby parking lot.  Feeling his nerves get the best of him, Scott stumbled to pull his keys out of his pocket with his injured arm.  Scott took one last look around him, searching the parking lot for anyone that might have seen him.  Once he had determined that there was not a single person around him, Scott got in his car, and started the engine.  Scott took one last quick glance around the parking lot, then sped off in his car.  Though uncertain where he would go, Scott knew he had to get as far away from his work as he possibly could.  Scott glanced in his rearview mirror to check the traffic behind him, and saw the stranger looking back at him once again.

“Good job,” the stranger snarled, flashing a wicked smile.  “Now, what are we going to do next for fun?”

Stranger

Part One

By Derrick Nadeau

Scott felt disoriented as he looked down the long, stark white hallway to the door at the end.  As he focused on the door, Scott could hear what sounded like a woman crying on the other side.  Scott took a deep breath, and slowly began to walk down the hallway.  With each step he took, the door at the end of the hallway seemed to be getting further away rather than closer, yet the sound of crying seemed to be increasing in volume.  Scott began walking faster, almost to the point of jogging, but still the door remained just out of reach.  Frustrated, Scott stopped walking, and turned to look back in the direction he had come from, and saw nothing but a cold, empty darkness.  Feeling panic begin to set into his mind, Scott turned back to the other end of the hallway, determined to run as fast as he could towards the door.  As he turned, Scott was shocked to find himself suddenly standing directly in front of the door.  Scott stared grimly at the doorknob, feeling an intense sense of trepidation., as the sound of the crying woman continued to grow louder.  Scott took another deep breath in an attempt to calm his nerves, then slowly opened the door in front of him.  The door opened to reveal a heavy darkness on the other side.  In the center of the darkness, a large bed could be seen bathed in a dim light.  Scott was shocked to see a naked woman on her hands and knees on top of the bed, facing away from him.  It was evident to Scott that the crying he had been hearing was coming from the woman on the bed.

“Are you all right,” Scott asked as he approached the bed cautiously.

“How could you,” the woman asked between sobs.

“I’m sorry?  What did you say?”

“How could you do this to me,” the woman cried, remaining perfectly still on the bed.

“Me,” Scott asked.  “What did I do?  Are you okay?”

“How could you,” the woman repeated coldly.

“What are you talking about?  What did I do?”

When Scott reached the head of the bed, he froze in his tracks and let out a loud gasp.  To his horror, Scott immediately discovered the answer to his question.  Through the dim light, Scott could see a large pool of blood soaking the bed directly under the kneeling woman.  Upon closer inspection, Scott discovered that the blood was pouring out of a large gash cut into the woman’s throat.  A sudden rush of panic filled Scott’s mind, and he began to stumble backwards into the darkness.  As he moved back, the woman began to stir on the bed, rising up and appearing to float off the bed and onto the floor.

“How could you do this to me,” the woman cried as her body began to move towards Scott without moving her legs or feet.

“What is this,” Scott asked, his voice barely more than a whisper.  At that moment, Scott tripped over something he could not see and fell to the floor.

“How could you do this to me,” the woman cried again, moving closer and closer to Scott.

“I didn’t,” Scott said, shaking his head furiously.  “I don’t know what this is.  I don’t understand.”

“How could you,” the woman asked again, this time a loud shout.

“Please,” Scott cried.  “Don’t.”

“How could you do this to me,” the woman asked again, this time in a scream so loud that it hurt Scott’s ears.

Before Scott could say another word, the woman suddenly appeared directly on top of him, pinning him to the floor.  Scott tried to push the woman off of him, but found himself unable to move as blood from the woman’s throat flowed down into his face.  Scott felt terror overtake him as the blood flowed down his throat, choking him.  Scott wanted to scream, but could not get out a sound as the deathly pale visage of the woman began to peel back, revealing a deep darkness underneath.  Scott could only watch in horror as the darkness expanded out, swallowing him up into it.

Scott woke up with a scream and quickly sat up in his bed, breathing heavily and drenched in sweat.  Scott shook his head, trying to shake the horrible dream out of his head, and then rubbed his eyes wearily.  Scott took a deep breath to calm his nerves, looked at his clock, and swore when he saw the time.  Though he felt exhausted from a night of disturbing dreams and wanted desperately to go back to sleep, his clock told him that he had a mere six minutes before his alarm would go off to let him know it was time to get ready for work.  Scott swore again, then stumbled out of bed to start his day.

Though he felt like a zombie, Scott managed to follow his routine and get himself ready for work.  Once he arrived at work, Scott headed to the break room and bought himself a cup of coffee from the vending machine.  Though he usually found the sludge masking itself as coffee served by the vending machine completely disgusting, Scott hoped that it would be gross enough to pull him our of his funk.  As he tried to force the coffee down his throat, his mind suddenly flashed back to the blood choking him in his dream, and he almost choked on the viscous liquid.  As he tried to recover from his choking, Scott’s friend Rich entered the breakroom and greeted him.

“Hey buddy,” Rich said.  “You okay there?”

“Yeah,” Scott replied, clearing his throat.  “Just trying to suck this crap down.”

“That stuff is nasty,” Rich said.  “Why are drinking that?”

“Didn’t sleep well last night,” Scott answered back, trying to decide if he could stomach another swig of motor oil.  “Figured this might help me wake up.”

“Yeah, you look like crap,” Rich said, shaking his head and chuckling.  “Late night with Sarah?”

“No,” Scott replied with a sigh.  “I didn’t even see Sarah last night.  She had to work late.  I’ve just been having some really bad dreams lately, that’s all.  They’ve really been messing with my head and ruining my sleep.”

“Really?  What kind of dreams?”

“Just,” Scott paused a moment, deciding if he wanted to discuss the nightly horrors his mind had been playing for him.  “I don’t really remember them.  I just know that they are bad and they are causing me to sleep like crap.”

“Sorry to hear that buddy,” Rich said.  “Maybe you should have called in sick today.”

“Maybe,” Scott said with a frown.  “But I think I needed to come in to keep my mind off of my crazy dreams.”

“Have you thought about going to see someone about this,” Rich asked.  “It’s obvious that it is something that is really affecting you.  You look exhausted.”

“Yeah, maybe,” Scott replied.  “I guess I could try to make an appointment with my doctor later.  Maybe that will help.”

“I’m sure they will be able to help in some way,” Rich agreed.  “Come on, it’s time to get to work now.”

“Yeah, okay,” Scott said, dumping the coffee he could not stomach down the drain of a nearby sink.

As Scott and Rich exited the breakroom, Scott paused in front of the doorway to let one of his coworkers, a woman named Mona, enter the breakroom.

“Good morning Scott,” Mona said, offering a greeting smile.

“Morning Mona,” Scott said back, attempting to return a weak smile.

“Have a good day today.  I’ll talk to you sometime later.”

“Sure thing Mona,” Scott said, as Mona walked past him into the breakroom.  “You have a good day too.  I hope it won’t be too busy.”

“Look at the ass on that one,” Scott heard someone say near him.  “I bet you could have some real fun with that one.”

Horrified, Scott turned to see who had made such a crass statement, but was surprised to see that there wan not a single person around him.

“I must be hearing things,” Scott said to himself, letting out a frustrated breath.  “My lack of sleep must be getting to me.”

“Come on,” the voice said again with a rough growl.  “You know you want a piece of that.”

Scott looked around again, desperately searching for a source to the voice he heard, but was dismayed to once again not find a single person near him.  Scott shook his head furiously, and hurried out of the breakroom.  Scott felt a surge of panic as he began to worry that his mind might be slipping, causing him to begin to hallucinate.  Scott ran into a nearby bathroom, walked up to the sink, and began to splash cold water on his face.  Scott grabbed a couple of paper towels, dried his face, and rubbed his eyes for a long moment.  Scott then took a couple of deep breaths, then glanced at himself in the mirror to see just how tired he actually appeared.  Scott’s blood turned to ice when he saw the face of a stranger staring back at him.

“Hey buddy,” the stranger in the mirror snarled.  “Remember me?”

On Blackened Wings

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You Burn

Rand could not hold back his joyous laughter as he soared through the air on his newly acquired wings.  As the cool wind gently nipped at his face, Rand felt the troubles and concerns of his life slip away into nothingness.  At that moment, all Rand cared about was the feeling of unparalleled freedom he felt soaring among the clouds.  Rand had never dreamed that flying high in the sky could feel so truly amazing, and he found himself wishing that he never had to touch the ground again.  As Rand began to feel more comfortable with his newly acquired wings, he began to test himself by attempting to mimic the actions of the birds that he had witnessed in the sky.  Rand pulled his wings close to his sides, and launched into  a free-fall towards the ground below.  Seconds before reaching the ground, Rand opened his wings again, catching the air perfectly to halt his fall and send him back up towards the sky, spinning and laughing as he rose.  Once he reached a high enough altitude, Rand dove towards the ground again.  Instead of rising back to the sky, Rand this time opened his wings further to allow himself to soar low to the ground.  Rand let out a triumphant shout as he watched the ground below him speed past.

As he soared along, close to the ground, Rand suddenly noticed a strange creature crawling on the ground ahead of him.  As he got closer, Rand noticed that the creature was actually a man.  Rand recognized the man immediately as he flew over him, and the joy in his heart was instantly consumed by pure hatred.  Rand adjusted his flight to bring himself back into the sky, and he circled around to get another view of the Seraph below him.

“How do you still live.” Rand shouted to the Seraph too far below him to hear.  “How is it possible?  I told the elders we should have killed you!”

Rand continued to circle the Seraph below him like a vulture waiting to feast, cursing the gods for sparing the creature’s life.  Letting anger take control, Rand dropped into another dive, aimed directly at the Seraph below.  Rand felt his blood boiling in his veins as he soared towards his target, and his mind began to focus on getting his revenge.  In a matter of seconds, Rand reached the Seraph, but was soaring too fast.  Unable to control himself, Rand crashed into the Seraph and rolled several feet before coming to a halt.  Rand moaned as he felt the pain of several broken ribs and a fractured jaw.  As Rand tried to get back to his feet, he heard another moan from the nearby Seraph.

“How,” Rand hissed, spitting out blood.  “How do you still live?”

Rand tried to stand but found that he had sprained his ankle as well, forcing him to drop back to the ground.  Rand fought back tears caused by a mix of pain and frustration as he looked over to the Seraph lying broken several feet away from him.  The Seraph began to attempt to move again, and Rand found his mind filling with hatred and anger once again.

“Die, damn you,” Rand shouted.  “Why won’t you just die?”

The Seraph responded to Rand’s question by coughing up blood, drove Rand past his breaking point.  With a scream of anger mixed with intense pain, Rand rose to his feet, ignoring his injuries, and hobbled over to the Seraph.  Letting out an anguished cry, Rand grabbed the Seraph and mustered all the strength he had left to launch himself back into the sky.  Though it was a great struggle, Rand lifted the Seraph high into the air, leaving the ground far below him.  Once he rose as high as he felt he could go, Rand released his grip on the Seraph, letting his son’s killer fall.  Rand began to fly in a circular pattern, watching intently as the Seraph dropped to the ground.  An eternity later, the Seraph crashed into the ground violently, leaving a bloody splatter around his body.

Rand felt a sense of relief as he stared at the lifeless body of his son’s murderer lying on the ground below him, and the tears began to flow from his eyes.  Moments later, Rand’s relief was turned to horror as he felt a burning sensation on his back.  In his peripheral vision, Rand could see flames coming from behind him.  Before Rand could realize what had happened, his wings had caught fire and burned up, leaving a mass of charred skin on his back.  Rand let out another pain filled scream as his once glorious wings burned off, leaving him charred and falling back to the earth.  Despite the agony of losing his wings, all Rand could focus on was his family as he fell to his death.  A brief moment later, Rand’s body crashed into the ground bringing his life to a painful end.

“I’m sorry Waryn,” a white-winged Seraph named Gabras announced.  “Your son did not survive the fall.”

“My son,” Waryn whispered as he knelt  over his son’s lifeless body.  “What did those animals do to you?”

” I can’t explain what happened here,” The Gabras stated.  “It seems that Ezkel’s wings have been chopped off his body, and his death seems to have been caused by the fall from that.  But, I can’t possibly imagine how that is possible.  We may never know the true story of how your son was slain.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Waryn stated coldly.  “All that matters is that my son lies dead in the dirt like some common beast.  Wrap up his body so that we can take him back home and give him a proper ritual.”

“Of course Waryn,” Gabras said, then turned his attention to the burnt and broken body of the Devlin lying nearby.  “And what of this beast?”

“Leave it,” Waryn snapped.  “I know that creature is somehow responsible for the death of my son.  Leave it lying in the dirt for the other beasts to feed on.  That is a fitting end for that creature.”

Waryn let his tears flow as he and Gabras wrapped Ezkel’s body in a large cloth.  The two Seraph then launched into the sky, carrying Ezkel’s body back to his home for a proper burial.

On Blackened Wings: Part Four

cooltext1595959836

Written by Derrick Nadeau

Part Four

You Are Reborn

 Rand stared at the black wings bolted to the side of his farmhouse as his mind swarmed with mixed emotions.  From the moment his son had been murdered by the monster once attached to the black wings, Rand’s life had become a whirlwind of anger, hatred, and sadness.  Rand picked up the ax he had used to remove the wings of his Seraph captive, and his mind swelled with the memory of what it felt like to chop the wings off of the monster that had attacked his family.  Each swing of the ax allowing Rand to expel his anger while the sound of the monster’s flesh tearing recharged his hatred for the next swing of the ax.  Rand stared down at the blood covered ax and found himself wishing he had been allowed to kill the Seraph instead of being forced to watch the monster that had destroyed his family crawl out of his village, wingless, with two huge, cauterised wounds on his back.  Though it seemed unlikely that the Seraph would survive the long journey back to his people, the small possibility that the monster could make it home filled Rand’s heart with bitterness.

Rand tossed the ax back on the ground, disgusted with the weakness of his village elders for letting the Seraph just leave.  Rand walked up to one of the wings, grabbed a hold of the crossbow bolt anchoring it to the wall of the farmhouse, and attempted to wrench it free.  Rand pulled on the bolt with all his strength while attempting to wiggle the bolt free, but could not get it to move at all.  As he tried to force the bolt out, Rand’s hands became sweaty, eventually slipping off the bolt and sending Rand reeling backwards.  As he slipped back, Rand tripped on the ax he had tossed on the ground, altering his fall so that he bumped into the wall of his farmhouse, landing between the two black wings.  Rand leaned against the wall for a moment, regaining his composure from the fall, when he suddenly began to feel a burning sensation on his back.  Rand attempted to push himself off the wall as the burning intensified, but found himself inexplicably paralyzed.  Panic began to overtake Rand’s mind, and he let out a scream filled with fear and agony.

Rand’s wife, Meleda, was preparing dinner when she was startled by the sound of her husband’s screaming.  Grabbing a nearby kitchen knife, Meleda ran outside to discover her husband writhing on the ground, covered by the black wings of the Seraph, and screaming as though he were being torn apart.  Meleda attempted to run to her husband’s side, but was blocked by the flailing wings.  Meleda lifted the knife in her hand, and stabbed at the closest wing, which seemed to only cause her husband to let out another agonized scream.

“Rand,” Meleda shouted, hoping her husband would hear her over his own screams.  “What is happening?  What can I do?”

Rand did not respond, continuing his chorus of pain, and Meleda began to feel panic set into her mind.  Desperate to help her husband, Meleda began to stab at the black wings again and again, ignoring her husband’s frantic cries after each stab.  After several hacks, one of the wings swung up and hit Meleda square in the chest, knocking her to the ground brutally.  Meleda placed her hand on her chest, sore from the impact of the wing, and felt for broken ribs as she tried to catch the breath that had been knocked out of her.  Meleda pulled her shirt open slightly, and examined her chest.  Meleda was not surprised to see a large, deep black bruise on her chest, but was relieved to see that no bones appeared broken.  As she watched a large welt begin to form on he skin, Meleda realized that the screams of her husband had abruptly stopped.  Meleda looked up to see rand lying still on the ground, covered by the black wings, his body slowly undulating as his breathing became deep and heavy.

“Rand,” Meleda cried, her voice barely able to produce more than a harsh whisper.  “My love, are you hurt?  What happened?”

Meleda paused, staring at her husband and praying for his response.

“Rand,” Meleda shouted, “Husband, please answer me!  Are you all right?”

Meleda struggled to get to her feet and move to her husband when suddenly, she saw the wings of the Seraph begin to stir.  Meleda watched in shock as the wings spread wide and her husband slowly rose to his feet.  Horror began to fill Meleda’s heart as she witnessed the sight of her husband standing before her with the black wings of the Seraph somehow attached to Rand’s back.

“Rand,” Meleda whispered, choking as she did.  “What has happened to you?”

Rand began to slowly move each wing, testing the strength and flexibility of his new appendages before turning his gaze to his wife.  Meleda was startled by the look in her husband’s eyes, a combination of awe and elation.

“My wife,” Rand said, smiling at Meleda.  “My love.  Look at me.  Look at what the gods have given me.  Look upon your husband as he has been reborn!”

“Reborn,” Melada whispered.  “I-I don’t understand.”

“Neither do I,” Rand laughed.  “Not fully.  It seems the will of the gods that I should be given this gift of our enemy’s wings.  Though the pain was exquisite, I am now truly blessed by the gods.”

“But why,” Meleda asked.  “For what purpose?”

“Who am I to guess at the whims of the gods,” Rand replied.  “Blessed though I be, I have not been given a glimpse into the will of the gods.”

“This is no small matter,” Meleda stated.  “We need to seek the counsel of the elders.”

“Yes, perhaps you are right my love,” Rand responded.  “Very well, let us seek the advice of our village elders.  I will meet you there my wife.  But first, my heart is aching to test out these wings.”

Before Meleda could answer, Rand began to flutter his wings, causing a wind to blow the dirt around.  Meleda covered her eyes to block the wind and dirt as her husband began to lift into the air.  With a cry of pure joy, Rand launched himself into the sky, leaving his wife behind.  Meleda watched her husband fly away, but instead of feeling awe or amazement, found only fear and concern filling her heart.

On Blackened Wings: Part Three

cooltext1595959836Written by Derrick Nadeau

Part Three

You Suffer

Rand studied the damage done to his village as he walked back to his farm from the town square.  Looking at all the destruction and pain caused by the Seraph attack, Rand found it difficult to agree with the sentence the village elders had decided on.  Rand had argued his point that the Seraph he had captured should be put to death immediately, but the elders would not allow such violence in their village.  Instead, the elders decided that the captured Seraph would be stripped of his wings and released outside the village to find his own way home, or die trying.  Rand found himself hoping for the death of the Seraph, a fitting end to the monster that took his son’s life, but also prayed to the gods that the death would be long and painful.  Rand took a deep breath, attempting to push down his anger and hatred to think with a clear mind, but the attempt was made futile the moment he once again saw the captured Seraph pinned to the side of his farmhouse.  Rand walked up to the Seraph, ignoring the questions from his wife and youngest son regarding the decision of the elders.

“I want to kill you,” Rand spat at the Seraph.  “Right here, right now, I want to kill you to avenge the son that you took from me.”

The Seraph, weakened by loss of blood and dehydration, began to cough violently until flecks of blood began to form on his lips.  Rand grabbed a nearby bucket of cold water and dumped it on the head of the Seraph.  The Seraph then began to struggle violently, attempting to pull his wings free from the crossbow bolts that held them firm to the farmhouse wall, while also attempting to break the rope that Rand had used to tie his hands together.

“You are too weak to break free now monster,” Rand shouted.

“Then kill me,” the Seraph hissed, barely able to speak.  “Kill me and take your revenge!”

Rand grabbed an ax that had been leaning against the wall nearby, charged towards the Seraph, lifted the ax to strike a fatal blow, then paused.

“I cannot,” Rand said, his arm shaking as he held the ax up.  “I am not allowed to kill you.  The elders have decided that you shall live.”

The Seraph began to laugh at that moment.  A weak, raspy laugh that could only be heard by Rand.

“Weak,” the Seraph hissed as he laughed.

“Say that again,” Rand said through gritted teeth.

“I will say it again, and again,” the Seraph continued, his voice becoming louder though still hoarse.  “You are weak!  Weak little animals!  That is why we hunt you.  The gods made you for the sole purpose of being prey for the mighty Seraph.  You are fooling yourselves if you think otherwise.”

“We are not animals,” Rand shouted,  “Look around you!  We have built ourselves a civilization here.  We are peaceful farming community.  We have never harmed your people.  We have given you no cause to slaughter us year after year.”

“The gods give us cause,” the Seraph said.  “You can pretend you are civilized all you like, but you always have been, and always will be animals put here for the Seraph to hunt and kill.  That is all you will ever be.”

“How can you say such things,” Rand asked.  “How can you look me in the eye and say such things to me.”

“Look you in the eye,” the Seraph asked in return.  “I look you in the eye and it only confirms my beliefs.  Look at yourself animal.  See yourself as we see you.  With your yellow eyes that glow red at night.  The horns that protrude out of the tops of your beastly heads.  Horns that point to the sky as if you are constantly praying to the gods.  It is my people that have been given the blessing of the gods.  My people who have been given wings so that we may soar in the heavens with the gods while you filthy animals work in the dirt where you belong.”

“Stop calling us animals,” Rand shouted, finding it harder to hold back his urge to kill the Seraph.

“Why would I,” the Seraph asked smugly.  “You are proving my point.  Look at how angry you are.  I can see your pathetic, animal emotions fighting to take control of you.  I can see it in your beastly face.  The faces of my people are beautiful, hand carved by the gods themselves.  While your faces are ugly and hairy.  Your noses are flat like the swine you tend to in your pens there.  Even your feet bear hooves, just like the feet of your pigs.”

“Stop now,” Rand shouted.  “Or I swear I will kill you no matter what the elder’s decision!”

“Then do it animal,” the Seraph shouted.  “Prove me right!  Show this world what an animal you still are.  Through aside your facade of civility and give in to your true nature.  Become the sad little beast I know you to be!”

Rand lifted the ax as high as he could, let out a blood-curdling scream, and sent the ax down with all the strength he had into the flesh of the Seraph.  As the Seraph let out his own agonized scream, Rand’s wife let out a gasp of shock as she grabbed her young son and turned his innocent eyes away from the brutal scene.  A spatter of blood smacked Rand in the face, and he felt a twinge of satisfaction as he again bit into the Seraph’s flesh with his ax.  Rand’s wife tried to cover her son’s ears with her hands to protect the child from the screams of agony mixed with the aggressive growl of her husband.  Rand’s wife closed her own eyes and listened to the sickening thud of the ax finding its target again and again until finally, the screaming died down to moaning.  Rand’s wife took a deep breath, slowly opened her eyes, then turned to see what her husband had done.

“It is done,” Rand said, spitting on the broken, wingless Seraph lying on the ground before him.  Rand looked up at his wife and son, who were staring back at him with expressions of pure shock, then quickly moved his gaze to the black wings still bolted to the farmhouse.  the wings twitched slightly, and Rand was pleased to see blood dripping down from the areas that  he had chopped away from the back of the Seraph.  As he stared at the wings, Rand heard the sounds of his fellow villagers approaching behind him.

“You have kept your word,” Delphon, one of the village elders announced as he approached Rand and the broken Seraph lying before him.

“I have,” Rand said back.  “I would not defy the wishes of the elders.  I thank you for at least allowing me the honor of carrying out the monster’s sentence.”

“I know you do not agree with our decision Rand,” Rigus, another elder spoke up.  “But, I hope in time you will come to understand it.  We cannot allow ourselves to become like them.  We cannot allow violence to become our way.”

“I do understand,” Rand said.  “Deep down, I know that we must be the animals these monsters think we are.  It is just hard to deal with the murder of my son.”

“We do hope this has brought some sort of closure for you,” Rigus said.  “Perhaps you will see that justice has been done for your son’s death.”

“Perhaps,” Rand whispered to himself, then cleared his throat before addressing the villager.  “Let’s get these wounds cauterized so we can get this monster out of our village for good then.”

“I brought a nice, hot iron for just that purpose,” Hark, the village blacksmith announced as he approached the broken Seraph.

Rand felt another twinge of satisfaction as he watched the blacksmith use his hot iron to cauterize the open wounds left in the Seraph’s back by the removal of his wings.  Rand allowed himself to find pleasure in the pain filled screams of the monster that had taken his son from him.  Though the elder’s had not allowed Rand to seek his vengeance in the death of the monster, taking the wings of the Seraph proved to be a favorable alternative.  Rand closed his eyes and pictured his son’s face, then let out a long sigh that helped him release some of his pain into the heavens.

“You are with the gods now my son,” Rand whispered as he looked to the sky with tears in his eyes.  “Though my heart is heavy, I take comfort knowing you are looking down on us.  You will always be loved here.”

On Blackened Wings: Part Two

cooltext1595959836

Written by Derrick Nadeau

Part Two

You Hunt

Rand wiped sweat off his brow as he stared up towards the sun standing high in the noon time sky.  Taking a swig of water from his flask, Rand stared at the field around him.  The year had been good for farming, and the crops had yielded a bountiful harvest.  Rand looked over to his eldest son, Emrik, harvesting tomatoes nearby and smiled proudly.  Rand looked back to his farmhouse and saw his youngest son, Donno, tending to the pigs in their pen with his mother, and his smile grew prouder.  Rand’s favorite time of year was quickly approaching, the end of harvest when the air would start becoming cooler and the leaves would change, and he was anxious to spend that time taking his sons out to the forest to hunt for wild game.  Though his people had been farmers for generations, planting crops and raising livestock, Rand had decided to rekindle the old traditions of hunting game in the fall and winter to sustain his family during the harder periods of cold and snow.  Rand had even used his skills as a tinkerer to upgrade his hunting weapons, such as turning a simple bow and arrow into a crossbow to improve his chances.  Rand had tried to share his inventions with his entire village, but was denied by his village elders.  The elders had decided that farming provided all the food needed by the village, and the old traditions of hunting wild animals for food no longer needed to be used for sustenance.  Rand shook his head and let out a chuckle as he thought about the arguments he had tried to use to convince the elders that hunting would add to the food supply in the harsh winters, and help everyone survive.  The elders quickly dismissed Rand’s claims, telling him that the farmlands yielded plenty of food for the entire village.  Though they had determined that hunting did not need to be used as an alternate food source, they would not deny anyone that chose to hunt on their own.  Rand had taught his sons to hunt, building crossbows for both, as well as a few of his closest friends.

Rand’s thoughts were interrupted suddenly by the sound of a bell ringing loudly at the edge of the village.  The bell was an alarm warning the village of an approaching attack by the mortal enemy of Rand’s village, the Seraph.  The Seraph, a race of winged hunters and warriors, believed themselves superior to Rand’s race, the Devlin.  With their horned heads and hoofed feet, the Devlin were treated as nothing more than mere animals by the Seraph  to be hunted and killed in a yearly ritual dedicated to the Gods.  The fact that the Devlin were merely farmers also led to the Seraph seeing them as weak pacifists that deserved to be hunted.

“Emrik,” Rand shouted to his son, “That’s the alarm!  The Seraph are coming!  Get to the house, now!”

Emrik responded immediately, dropping his basket of tomatoes and running full speed towards the farmhouse.  Rand followed closely behind, but could not match his son’s speed.  Emrik reached the farmhouse, paused, and turned to make sure his father was not too far behind.  Emrik was relieved to see that his father was only a couple of steps behind him, and he turned his gaze up to the sky.  Emrik could see the silhouettes of several Seraph hunters in the sunlight, and his heart filled with dread.

“They’re coming father,” Emrik shouted, pointing to the sky.  “Hurry!”

Rand reached the doorway of his house, breathing heavily, and turned to look in the direction his son was pointing in time to see the Seraph diving towards Rand’s village, their spears hungry for blood.

“Get in the house,” Rand hissed through heavy breaths.

“But father,” Emrik protested.

“Go,” Rand shouted.  “Make sure your mother and brother are safe!”

As Emrik ran to find his mother and brother, Rand looked to his tool shed several yards away from the house and calculated his chances of making it to the shed safely. The crossbows Rand and his sons used to hunt were stored in that shed, and he knew that he would need the weapons to keep his family safe from the sky hunters.  Rand took a deep breath, cursed his fortune, and ran at full speed towards the shed.  With his focus centered on the shed in front of him, Rand did not see the Seraph bearing down on him.  Rand let out an agonized shout as the Seraph swooped down and knocked Rand to the ground.  Rand rolled over, holding his now aching ribs, to see the Seraph, a young hunter with black wings, circling back to attack again.

“Father,” Rand heard Emrik shout as he ran out to help his father.

“No son,” Rand shouted back.  “Stay in the house!  Don’t worry about me!”

Rand watched in horror as the black winged Seraph swooped down again, this time aiming for his son.  Rand struggled to get to his feet as his son was knocked to the ground by the Seraph.  Rand fought the urge to run to his son’s side, knowing that he would not be able to protect his son without a weapon.  As tears filled his eyes, Rand turned and ran to the shed, the sound of Seraph wings taunting him from the air.  As Rand approached the shed, he put his head down and ran into the door of the shed.  Using his momentum coupled with the hard bone of the horns on his head, Ran was able to easily break through the locked door of the shed in one single attempt.  Once inside the shed, Rand grabbed his crossbow and a quiver of bolts,  and quickly loaded a bolt into the crossbow.  Rand rushed out of the shed to see his son lying on the ground with the black winged Seraph standing over him.  Before Rand could react, the Seraph stabbed his spear into Emrik’s chest, piercing the young Devlin’s heart.

Rand let out a blood curdling scream as he watched the spear pierce his son’s chest several more times.  Acting on pure impulse, Rand lifted his crossbow, aimed it at the black winged Seraph, and released a bolt.  The bolt soared through the air and found its mark, piercing through the right arm of the Seraph.  The Seraph let out a cry of pain as he grabbed on to the bolt protruding from his arm.  The Seraph turned to face Rand, raising his wings to take flight.  Rand had quickly loaded another bolt into his crossbow, and he rushed to fire it at the Seraph.  The second bolt found its way to the Seraph’s wing, boring into the thin, feather covered flesh, and sending the Seraph careening backwards towards Rand’s nearby farmhouse.  The Seraph screamed as the bolt found purchase in the wall of the farmhouse, trapping him against the wall.  Rand, having once again loaded his crossbow, fired another bolt into the Seraph’s other wing, preventing the creature from escaping.

Once Rand had determined that the Seraph was securely trapped against the wall of his farmhouse, he ran to his son’s side and cradled the boy in his arms.  With the sounds of the Seraph struggling to free himself echoing through the air, Rand stared down at his son with tear filled eyes.  Rand watched helplessly as the god of death stole his son’s life away, offering a prayer for the safe travel of his son’s soul to the heavens.  Once the life had fully slipped away from Emrik, Rand closed his son’s eyes and kissed him on the forehead.

Rand grabbed his crossbow, then focused his hate filled gaze on the captured Seraph.

“You took my son from me you bastard,” Rand shouted as he loaded another bolt into his crossbow.

The Seraph did not reply, but instead focused solely on the bolts holding his wings to the wall of the farmhouse.

“My son,” Rand shouted, aiming the crossbow at the Seraph’s head and walking towards the hunter.  “My eldest son!  You took his life!  You stole my son from me!”

The Seraph turned his focus to the crossbow aimed at his head, his eyes growing wide, but still did not respond.

“Do you not feel a bit of remorse,” Rand asked, still shouting.  “What kind of horrible creature are you?  You murdered my son!  For what purpose?  To appease your cruel gods?  How many sons of my people have been taken by your hunters?  And now look at you.  Trapped here by my bolts.  Your wings useless to you now.  I should just put another bolt in your head and finish you!  Or perhaps through your heart as you did to my son!”

“Please,” the Seraph cried out at last.  “Please don’t kill me!”

“So you can speak,” Rand said.  “And those are the words you choose to say to me?  To beg for your life?  You did not even give my son time to beg for his.”

“Please,” The Seraph said again as Rand pushed the head of the crossbow bolt into the his chest.

“Beg all you want monster,” Rand spat.  “You killed my son.  There is no reason for me to spare your life.”

“Perhaps there is,” A voice said from behind Rand.

Rand turned to see several of his fellow villagers approaching his farmhouse, including the elders.  Rand turned back to the Seraph and once again pointed his crossbow at his head.

“He killed my son,” Rand said, addressing the approaching villagers.  “He deserves nothing less than death.”

“Our village has lost many sons this day,” One elder said.  “And we will lose many more when the hunters return in the next few days.  And yet, you have done something that has never been done before Rand.  You have captured one of the hunter’s own sons.  We understand your need for justice in your son’s death Rand.  But, perhaps there is a better way.  A way that will show the Seraph that we will no longer sit by and allow them to take our people from us.”

Rand took a deep breath, glared back at the captured Seraph, then lowered his crossbow reluctantly.

“Tell me your plan,” Rand finally said after a long pause.  “Convince me why I should not just kill him outright.”

On Blackened Wings: Part One

cooltext1595959836Written by Derrick Nadeau

Part One

You Rise

The sound of wings beating on the wind ripped Ezkel’s mind from a deep meditation.  Opening his weary eyes, Ezkel tried to focus his vision on the sun soaked sky above him.  Excitement and relief filled Ezkel’s heart as he realized that it was finally time for him to go home.  Though Ezkel had lost track of how long he had actually been abandoned on the cliffs above his home, it had begun to seem like his entire life had been spent in exile.  Ezkel closed his eyes once more, took in a deep breath of the cool air, and slowly rose to his feet.  Ezkel moved clumsily on weak legs towards the landing area, keeping his eyes skyward as the sound of the wings grew closer.  Ezkel allowed himself a smile of true joy as the source of the sounds came into view.  As Ezkel approached the landing area, he waved at the three winged men flying down to meet him.

“Hello father,” Ezkel said as he walked up to the three winged men.

“Ezkel, my son,” one of the men replied, reaching out to embrace Ezkel.  “It is good to see you alive and well.”

“Thank you father,” Ezkel replied, circling his arms around his father’s muscular form.  As he embraced his father, Ezkel felt his skin brush up against his father’s wings, and he felt a pang of sadness.  “It has been a challenge, but I am proud to say that I have survived the ritual.”

“Unbind him,” Ezkel’s father said to the two other men at his side.  “You did well my son.  I am proud you have survived the ritual as well.  Now, it is time for you to go home and prepare for the hunt.”

“I am very much looking forward to that,” Ezkel beamed.

Ezkel let out a sigh of relief as the two men accompanying his father walked behind him and began to unbind his wings.  Ezkel winced as he stretched his wings, now stiff and weakened from the ritual binding.  Though his wings now felt broken and useless, his feathers almost completely fallen off, Ezkel accepted his pain as part of the ritual.  When a boy reaches the age of fifteen, he is then sent to the cliffs above his home, wings bound tightly so that they cannot be used, and forced to live on their own for one month.  Once the ritual is complete, the boy is allowed to return home as a man.  Now considered a man by his tribe, Ezkel would be allowed to join the annual hunt of the Devlin with the rest of the men in his tribe.

“Let’s go home then,” Ezkel’s father announced.

The two men then wrapped a harness around Ezkel’s waist, stood on either side of him, and prepared to launch back into the sky.  With his wings in their weakened state, Ezkel had no choice but to allow himself to be carried home by the two men.  Though it was the most degrading part of the ritual, being carried home after a month of wing binding was considered an important lesson in humility.  Ezkel placed his hands on the straps of the harness and held tightly as the two men began flapping their wings, slowly at first then increasing speed until they began to lift off.  Ezkel began to grow excited as he felt the ground fall away from his feet.  It had been too long since Ezkel felt the joy of soaring through the sky, and the wind on his face brought back pleasant memories of mock dogfights in the sky with his friends as a child.  Ezkel looked over at his father, flying by his side, and smiled brightly.  After a month of pain and loneliness, Ezkel allowed himself to revel in the bliss of gliding through the air.

Ezkel watched the ground below him as he soared past, not realizing how homesick he was until he actually saw his village growing larger as he approached.  Ezkel’s father smiled at his son before suddenly diving down to the village below.  The two men began to slowly lower Ezkel down to the ground below, circling the village as they lowered down.  As the men approached the village center, Ezkel was pleased to see it filled with his fellow villagers cheering for his return.  Once he reached the ground, Ezkel began to remove his harness as his mother appeared from the crowd and ran up to embrace her son.

“Hello Mother,” Ezkel whispered as he wrapped his arms tightly around his mother.

“My son is back,” Ezkel’s mother cried.  “I missed you so much.”

“I missed you too,” Ezkel whispered, choking back tears.

“Our son has done us proud Ada,” Ezkel’s father said as he approached his son and wife.

“Yes, Waryn,” Ada said, not letting go of her son.  “I am a very proud mother.”

“I can see that,” Waryn said with a chuckle.  “But I’m afraid you must let him go now.  It is time for him to finish the ritual.  If you are ready of course.”

“Yes father,” Ezkel replied calmly.  “I am ready.”

“Then come along,” Waryn commanded.  “Meet us at the lake.”

Though he craved a good night of rest, Ezkel knew that his ordeal was not over yet.  With an anguished sigh, Ezkel watched as his parents flew off without him.  The next part of the ritual would consist of Ezkel, his wings still unusable, making the journey by foot out of his village, through the forest of the ancients, until reaching the great lake of renewal deep in the forest.  The journey, normally just over an hour, would take a bit longer for Ezkel in his tired and weakened state, but Ezkel took a deep breath and pushed himself forward.

As night began to fall, Ezkel arrived at the lake of renewal to find his fellow villagers, including his parents, waiting for him.  Ezkel felt pride overtake his state of exhaustion, giving him the strength to finish his journey.  Ezkel walked to his parent’s side, and stood there gazing into the water of the lake of renewal.  Ezkel’s mind began to drift off when another man, the minister of the Lake of Renewal stood before him.

“Young Ezkel,” the minister said, projecting loudly enough for all to hear.  “I have watched you grow up from a young child into the man who stands before me now.  You have completed the binding ritual, and are now standing before the Lake of Renewal, ready to complete your transformation.  Now, your destiny is in your own hands young one.  You must walk into the lake and bathe in its rejuvinating waters.  Are you prepared?”

“I am prepared Minister,” Ezkel replied.

“Then take the journey,” the minister replied.

Ezkel straightened himself, gave both his parents a reassuring glance, then began slowly shuffling towards the lake.  Ezkel continued walking until he was waist deep in the cool water, then turned to look back at his parents.  Ezkel’s father smiled back at his son, then gave him a nod of approval.  Ezkel returned his father’s nod, then allowed himself to fall backwards into the lake.  As Ezkel felt the waters engulf his entire body, he felt tranquil and relaxed, but only for a moment.  Suddenly, pain overtook every nerve in Ezkel’s body, and he began to thrash around in the water, unable to lift himself out of the lake.  Panic set into Ezkel’s mind as felt water fill his mouth, and he felt that he would undoubtedly drown in the lake.  Ezkel then used skills of meditation he had learned during his time alone on the cliffs to calm his mind and push the pain out of his body.  Once calmed, Ezkel found his footing on the bottom of the lake, and raised himself out of the water.  Ezkel was amazed to find himself suddenly full of vitality as he rose from the lake, letting out a shout of exhilaration as he shook off the lake water.

At that moment, Ezkel realized that his wings felt fully functional once again, and he spread his wings out fully with pride.  Ezkel heard a gasp of shock, and he looked to the shore to see his parents staring back at him with their mouths hanging open.  Ezkel walked back to the shore, flapping his now rejuvenated wings to air them out.

“Son,” Ezkel’s father said as he ran up to Ezkel.  “Your wings.”

“I know father,” Ezkel said, his smile beaming.  “I feel like I could fly around the world now!”

“No son,” Ezkel’s father said.  “Your wings are black.”

Ezkel stopped suddenly, shocked by the words of his father.  Ezkel’s race, the Seraph, traditionally had white wings, even after bathing in the Lake of Renewal.  Once every few decades, Seraph would rise from the waters with black feathered wings instead of white.  It was believed by the Seraph that black wings were a gift bestowed upon the greatest of hunters by the gods themselves.  To rise from the waters with black wings was a sign that you were truly blessed by the gods as the supreme hunter.

“My son,” Ezkel’s father announced to the crowd of villagers, “has been blessed by the gods.  Ezkel has been given the wings of the supreme hunter.  As is our way, we shall bow to the decision of the gods.  My son will lead the hunt.”

Ezkel felt his heart swell with pride as the crowd of villagers cheered and began chanting his name.  Ezkel spread his wings as far as he could for the entire village to see as he smiled at his proud father.

“Let us celebrate,” Ezkel’s father shouted over the crowds cheers.  “In two days we hunt!”

The Sleeper: Part Four

cooltext1471861634Part Four

Written by Derrick Nadeau

As Greg knelt on the floor, doubled over in pain and spitting up blood, he ran through the events of the evening that led him to this moment in some desperate hope that he might be able to find a way out of his current predicament.  A pleasant dinner with his family interrupted by the knock at the door began Greg’s downward spiral when Sam, the man currently holding a gun to Greg’s head, handed him an envelope with information that would activate Greg’s status as a sleeper agent.  According to the orders contained in the envelope, Greg’s first task would be to eliminate his wife and son, thereby cutting all ties to his past life.  Greg had accomplished the murder of his wife, a task that had broken his heart, but could not bear the thought of killing his own son.  Greg had attempted to escape with his son Peter, but his escape was blocked by Sam and a squad of soldiers that had invaded his home.  To Greg’s horror, Sam brought Peter to the bedroom where his mother’s dead body lie bleeding out while informing Greg that everything he thought he knew was nothing more than a complete lie.

“What are you talking about,” Greg spat as he watched his crying son being dragged out of the bedroom.  “What is going on?”

“Let me explain this too you as succinctly as I can,” Sam said, grinning wickedly as he pushed Greg’s own gun into his temple harshly.  “You see, you think that you are a sleeper agent whose job was to settle into a certain area and settle down with a family until the day that you are finally needed to be activated for some stupid mission.  I believe your mission was supposed to be assassinating that geneticist you work for or some shit like that.”

“Why are you telling me this,” Greg cried out.  “Why are you doing this to me?  Why are you doing this to my son?  What is your game?”

“Don’t interrupt me,” Sam shouted, backhanding Greg with the gun in his hand.  “Let me finish and it will all make sense to you.  I promise.”

Greg coughed up more blood, looked up to his son who could not meet his gaze.  Greg’s heart broke again as he watched his son standing in front of him, staring at the floor with tears streaming down his face.

“Now then,” Sam continued as he moved towards Greg’s son.  “You thought this whole time that your life was leading up to the moment when you would be activated for your ‘true mission’.”

Sam paused a moment to let out a loud, obnoxious laugh.  Greg coughed up more blood and tried, unsuccessfully, to get to his feet.

“The truth is that you have already completed your mission,” Sam stated as he knelt down to look Peter directly in his tear-stained eyes.  “Your true mission was to raise us a new generation of agent.  And you have done that very well.”

“What,” Greg  shouted.  “What the fuck are you saying?”

“My but you really are dense,” Sam laughed.  “Do I really have to spell out every single word for you?  Fine, it will truly be my pleasure to break this to you.  You, my friend, are not the sleeper agent you have always thought you were.  You are, in fact, nothing more than a nanny agent.  Nanny agent, I love saying that.  The truth is that the sleeper agent here is actually this young man right here.”

“No,” Greg spat.  “No!  No! No!  What kind of fucking mind game are you playing now you sick, twisted fuck?”

“Oh, this is no game,” Sam replied with a diabolical chuckle.  “This is the sad truth.  Your son Peter here is the true sleeper agent.  You raised your son with our ideals, taught him to live by the same codes you were raised by.  Hell, you even taught him how to use a gun.  Of course, we taught him how to shoot with accuracy.  When you thought your son was going to a normal school every day, he was really being trained to be a perfect little agent.  Now, he has reached the age where he doesn’t need this little fantasy life you have provided for him, and we can take Peter into our fold and fully train him to be a proper agent.”

“No,” Greg shouted, letting his anger take control of him.  “You are lying!  You sick fuck!  You are lying!”

Greg’s rant was cut short as the three men pointing guns at him teamed up to beat Greg down.  Greg was unable to block the torrent of fists pummeling him, and soon found himself lying on the floor with blood pouring out of several open wounds on his face and body.

“I see you will require proof,” Sam said, throwing a pitiful glance in Greg’s direction.  “I will be happy to give you that proof.  I think it is time we finally end this game any way.”

Sam moved his hand down to Peter’s chin, lifted the child’s head, and gently rubbed the tears from Peter’s cheeks.  Sam smiled down at the sniffling child and gave him a pat on the head.

“Now, now,” Sam addressed Peter with a soothing voice.  “Agents don’t cry child.  It’s time for you to buck up and suck it up.  Now then, pay attention to what I am about to say to you.”

Peter sniffled again as he focused on Sam’s face.

“Good,” Sam said.  “Now then, wake up sleeping agent.  It’s time to activate.”

As Sam said these words, Greg watched in horror as his son’s face suddenly took on a stoic expression.  The tears Peter had been shedding stopped abruptly as his breathing immediately became calm and steady.  Peter looked to Sam with cold, staunch eyes, ignoring everything else around him, including his own father.

“Are you with us agent,” Sam asked.

“Yes Sir,” Peter replied coldly.  “I am here and ready for duty.  Do you have a mission for me Sir?”

“Yes,” Sam replied.  “As a matter of fact I do.  This man on the floor here is responsible for the death of your mother.  Your first mission will be to eliminate him using this gun.”

“It will be my pleasure to complete this mission,” Peter stated, taking Greg’s gun from Sam.

Greg watched in horror and disbelief as Peter walked up to him, pointing the gun directly at Greg’s head.  Greg looked up at his son, begging and pleading Peter to come to his senses and drop the weapon, but Peter ignored Greg’s cries.  With nothing but indifference in his eyes, Peter carefully aimed the gun at Greg’s forehead and coldly pulled the trigger twice.  As Greg’s lifeless body slumped to the floor, Peter turned to Sam and handed him the gun.  Sam walked over to Greg, and kicked his body a couple of times to ensure that he was, in fact, dead.  Satisfied that Greg’s life had been taken, Sam turned to Peter with a smile of approval.

“Well done agent,” Sam lauded.  “You have completed your first mission perfectly.”

“Thank you Sir,” Peter responded coldly.

“All right men,” Sam said, addressing his squad of soldiers, “let’s get this mess taken care of.  Take our new agent to the van so we can get him back to HQ and get him debriefed.  Then, call in the cleaners and have them scrub this place down.”

Sam watched Peter intently as the soldiers led him down the stairs and out the door.  Sam noticed with satisfaction that Peter paid no attention to the body of his dead father as he passed him.  Sam allowed a wry smile to cross his face, taking pride in the young man that he had played a part in sculpting into a perfect sleeper agent.  Once Peter had exited the house, Sam took in a deep breath and proudly began to leave himself, stopping briefly to address Greg’s deceased form.

“Goodbye Gregory,” Sam said, smiling down at Greg.  “Thank you so much for a truly lovely evening.  I  had a fantastic time.  You really know how to throw a party.”

Sam then turned and walked down the stairs and out the front door, laughing hysterically the entire time.

The Sleeper: Part Three

cooltext1471861634

Part Three

Written by Derrick Nadeau

Greg’s mind frantically searched for a way out of his predicament, but was unable to find any solution.  Closing his eyes, Greg ran through the events that had led him to this point in his mind.  Greg had enjoyed his life as a sleeper agent, married to a wonderful wife and raising a good son, but his life had been ruined earlier in the evening when a man arrived at his door handing him an envelope and informing him that he had been activated.  Being activated meant that, in addition  to completing an assignment given to him by his superiors, Greg would also have to kill both his wife and his son to tie up any loose ends from his life as a sleeper.  Though it broke his heart, Greg had completed the first step of his assignment, killing his wife by shooting her in her bed.  The murder of his own wife had left him so distraught that Greg could not bear to kill his son.  Instead, Greg had woken his son up from his slumber and attempted to escape with him.  As Greg and his son attempted to run, his house had been invaded by a squad of men, each carrying a weapon.

Greg stared at the three men pointing guns at he and his son when he was suddenly distracted by the sound of footsteps climbing the stairs.  Greg focused his gaze to the stairs in time to see the man who had activated him earlier in the evening approaching.  Greg’s heart sank as the man walked up to him, paused briefly to look Greg in the eyes, then continued on to the bedroom where Greg’s dead wife lay.  Greg looked down at his son and felt the urge to cry as he witnessed the pure terror in his young son’s eyes.  A moment later, the man who destroyed Greg’s wife walked out of the bedroom, pausing once again to look in Greg’s eyes and shake his head in what Greg could only guess was disappointment, then continued on to the room of Greg’s son.  Greg felt a sudden pain in his chest as the man then walked out of the bedroom carrying the gun that Greg had used to murder his wife.  The man walked up to Greg and his son and pointed the gun at Greg’s head.

“What is your name son,” the man asked Greg’s son.

Greg’s son was too frightened to answer and could only stare up at the man with tear filled eyes.

“Too scared to answer,” the man continued.  “I understand.  It doesn’t matter any way, I know your name is Peter. “

“Please,” Greg pleaded.  “Don’t hurt my son.”

“Shut up,” the man growled, jabbing Greg’s own gun into his forehead.  “Shut up and do not say a word or I will make sure you and your son die a very slow, very painful death.  Now then, Peter, my name is Samuel.  But, you can just call me Sam.”

Sam bent down on one knee, looking Peter directly in the eyes, and let Peter get a look at Greg’s gun in his hands.

“Do you know what this is Peter,” Sam asked.

Peter’s lips trembled as he stammered out his response, “a g-gun.”

“Well, Yes,” Sam agreed.  “But it is more than just any gun.  This is the gun that your father used to kill your mother.”

Peter began to shake his head furiously as tears streamed down his face.

“It’s true,” Sam said, his face taking on an expression of mock sadness.  “I’m sorry to have to tell you that.”

“You are lying,” Peter shouted.

“I know it must be hard for you to believe,” Sam said in a soothing voice.  “But it’s true.  You mom is dead, and your father is the one who killed her with this very gun.”

“Shut up,” Peter screamed.  “You are lying!  I don’t believe you.”

Sam let out a long sigh before standing back up and turning to one of the three men pointing guns at Greg.  “Take him in and show him.”

“No, please,” Greg said, resulting in one of the men to jab the butt of his gun into Greg’s ribs.

As one of the other men grabbed Peter and dragged the screaming boy into his parents bedroom, Sam turned to face Greg, who was doubled over in pain from the shot to his ribs.  Greg coughed as he clutched his sore ribs, and a few specks of blood found their way to the corner of his mouth.

“Why would you do that to him,” Greg asked between coughs.

“You surprised me tonight Gregory,” Sam said, examining Greg’s gun in his hands.  “I am always surprised by you sleeper agents.  No matter how many times I do this, I can never figure out what you fools will do.  I can never anticipate how you will react.  I guess, ultimately, that’s what makes my job so much fun.”

“What the fuck are you talking about,” Greg asked, spitting blood towards Sam.

“Oh, this is my absolute favorite part,” Sam replied with a hint of glee in his voice.  “It might be a bit of a cliché, but I absolutely love this part where I get to explain everything to you right before I kill you.  I completely understand why villains in movies do this.”

Before Sam could continue, he was interrupted by the cries of Peter in the bedroom.

“Ah, I see your son has seen your handiwork,” Sam said.  “That’s certainly going to scar him for life.  That will make him easier to keep in line.”

“What do you mean,” Greg asked, suddenly horrified.

“This is my favorite part,” Sam said, leaning in close to Gregory and speaking softly.  “The truth is that you aren’t what you think you are.  You were never what you thought you were.  Everything you thought you knew was a complete lie.”

“What are you talking about,” Greg asked, spitting blood again.

Sam straightened up, flashed a wicked grin at Greg, then turned to face Greg’s bedroom.

“Bring the kid back out here,” Sam called out.  “Let’s show Gregory here who the real sleeper agent is.”

The Sleeper: Part Two

cooltext1471861634Part Two

Written by Derrick Nadeau

Greg stood next to his bed and stared down through tear soaked eyes at his dead wife bleeding out in front of him.  The last few hours of the day ran through his mind like an unstoppable train of horror and sorrow.  Greg’s entire life began to fall apart the moment a strange man arrived at his door during dinner and informed Greg that he was no longer a sleeper agent living a quiet life in the suburbs, but had at that moment been activated to complete an assignment.  To Greg’s horror, being activated meant that he had to destroy all evidence of the life he had built as a sleeper agent, including killing his wife and son.  Greg had struggled with his task for hours afterwards, drinking scotch and rereading the assignment notes until he had at last built up the courage to begin his assignment.  Even as his heart was breaking, Greg somehow found the nerve to shoot his wife as she lay asleep in their bed.  The act of murdering the woman he loved nearly tore Greg’s soul apart, but he managed to hold himself together in order to complete his assignment.  Greg wondered at that moment how other sleeper agents dealt with such pain, but then thought that perhaps they did not allow themselves to become attached to anyone the way Greg had.  Greg’s mind began to wander down the path of what it actually meant to be a sleeper agent when he suddenly snapped himself back to reality.  There was still one more task for Greg to complete in order to separate himself from his past life, and Greg was left with no other choice.  Killing his wife had pushed Greg past the point of backing out, the only option left was to murder his own son.

With tears still streaming down his face, Greg turned and slowly walked out his bedroom, into the hallway, and continued to his son’s room.  Greg placed his hand on the door of his son’s room, thankful that it had been closed and had hopefully kept his son from waking up, and paused long enough to compose himself.  Greg took a deep breath, held it for a moment, then slowly opened the door to his son’s room.  Once his eyes had adjusted to the darkness of the room, lit only by the wash from the hallway light, Greg took a quick scan and saw that his son remained in his bed, undisturbed and sleeping peacefully.  Greg fought back the urge to cry again as he quietly walked over to his son’s bed.

Greg stared down at his sleeping son as a surge of memories flooded his mind, causing such sorrow that he began to feel actual physical pain in his heart.  The birth of his son had been the single greatest joy in Greg’s life, and that joy now lay shattered at the bottom of his heart as he prepared to murder his own son.  Greg could feel his hands shaking, almost losing his grip on the gun he had just used to kill his wife.  Greg sucked in a quick gasp of air, tightened his grip on the gun, and forced his nerves to calm down.  Greg closed his tear soaked eyes and raised his gun towards his son.

Greg took several more deep breaths to calm himself, opened his eyes,  and lowered his gun.

“I can’t do this,” Greg whispered to himself.  “I can’t kill my own son.  I can’t.”

As Greg stood there, staring at the gun in his hand, he began to hear the sound of music playing.  Greg quickly realized that the music was coming from his son’s cellphone lying on the nightstand beside his son’s bed.  In a panic, Greg grabbed the phone, tried unsuccessfully to shut the phone off, then threw it out into the hallway.  Greg’s first instinct was to run out of the room and keep running, but the sound of his son’s voice caused Greg’s mind to suddenly go blank.

“Dad,” Greg’s son croaked in a sleepy voice.  “What’s going on?  What are you doing in my room?”

“I-” Greg began to answer his son, but quickly found that no words came to his mind.

“Dad, are you okay?”

“I’m so sorry,” Greg finally whispered.

“What did you say,” Greg’s son asked, sitting up to face his father.

Gregory could not answer his son, but instead dropped to his knees, allowing the gun to slip from his hands and slide down to the floor.  As Greg dropped, some unknown object struck the wall behind him exactly where his head had been a moment before.  Greg realized instantly from the sound of the impact that the object that had hit the wall was a bullet.  At that moment, Greg let his survival instincts take control, grabbing his son and pulling him out of his bed onto the floor.  Greg pulled his son close to him as he crouched down near the bed and tried to quickly plan his next move.  Greg looked over to the door of his son’s room, made a quick distance judgment, then focused his attention on his panicked son.

“Listen to me now,” Greg shouted, trying to hold his son’s attention.

“What is going on dad,” Greg’s son cried out.

“Listen to me,” Greg barked again.   “Just focus on me.  Don’t worry about anything else.  Just focus on me.”

“I’m confused dad.”

“Don’t worry, I will explain everything after.  Right now I just need to get you out of here.  To do that, we need to make a quick run out the door of your bedroom.  But you need to stay low and get out as quickly as you can.  Do you understand?”

“What is this?  What-“

“Don’t worry about that now,” Greg replied, grabbing his son by the shoulders and forcing him to focus.  “You need to do what I tell you.  Do you understand me son?”

“Okay,” Greg’s son replied, staring at his father’s face.  “I understand Dad.”

“Good.  Now, when I tell you too, you need to run out to the hallway as quickly as you can.  But, you also need to stay as low to the floor as you can.  Understand?”

“Yes Dad,” Greg’s son replied.  “I got it.  Run to the hallway.  Stay low.”

“Good.  Now get ready.”

Greg and his son moved to the edge of the bed and prepared themselves for the quick run out the bedroom door.  Greg paused for a moment, signaled his son to be quiet, then listened closely to the surrounding area.  Greg’s eyes widened as he heard the sound of whispered voices coming from somewhere outside his house.  At that moment, Greg realized that his handlers had been watching him since the moment he had been activated.  Having failed to kill his own son, Greg knew that his superiors would send in a team of specialists to clean up the mess he had caused.  At that moment, Greg decided he would do all he could to save the life of his son.

“Are you ready.” Greg asked.

“Yes Dad,” his son replied as he crouched down like a cat about to pounce on its prey.

Greg took one more deep breath and stared at the doorway that now represented his son’s salvation.

“Go!  Now,” Greg shouted as he instantly ran towards the door.  Though they tried to stay as low as the could, Greg and his son were forced to expose themselves as they left the safety of the bed and ran to the doorway.  Several more gunshots ruptured the wall near them, and Greg realized that there must be a shooter in the house of their neighbor across the street.  Greg wondered briefly if that meant that his neighbors had been killed as well, but quickly pushed that though out of his mind.  Though it seemed like an eternity, Greg and his son reached the doorway in seconds, stopping only once they had made it safely into the hallway.  Greg grabbed his son once again and quickly scanned him for any injuries.  Greg let out a sigh of relief when he saw that his son had made it out of the bedroom unscathed.

“Are you okay,” Greg asked his son.  “Are you hurt?”

“I’m fine Dad.  I’m just confused.”

Greg embraced his son and let his tears flow freely.  The only thing on Greg’s mind at that moment was the love he felt for his son.  Nothing else in the world seemed to matter as Greg and his son stood in the upstairs hallway hugging each other.  The moment was soon ruined by the sound of loud pounding on the front door of the house.  Greg let go of his son, moved to the top of the stairs to look down.  Suddenly, the front door burst open and several men burst through, pointing guns in front of them as then entered.  The men spotted Greg instantly and ran up the stairs towards him.  Greg tried to grab his son and flee to one of the bedrooms, but the men were upon him before he could run.  Greg held his son close to him as three men surrounded him and pointed their guns at him.

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