Ever Vigilant, Part Four

RECAP:  After returning from a mission in the wilds of space, the superhero Extraordinary Man learns that something strange had happened to his friend and colleague The Vigilante.  After disappearing for three weeks, The Vigilante returned suddenly without an explanation.  On his return, The Vigilante had become a far more violent and vicious crime-fighter.  The Extraordinary Man, also known by his real name Nathan to those closest to him, rushed to find his friend to learn what had caused his transformation into a savage executioner.  Nathan quickly discovered that the man behind the mask of The Vigilante was not his friend Kurt, but was actually The Cad, murderous arch-nemesis of The Vigilante.  Nathan forced The Cad to explain what he had done to Kurt, and The Cad was elated to tell the tale of how he had defeated and killed his greatest nemesis.  Nathan, filled with rage at the news of his friend’s death, attacked The Cad and began tearing the armor of the Vigilante off of the villain.  The Cad released a cloud of toxic green gas that instantly weakened The Extraordinary Man, leaving him weakened on his knees with The Cad standing over him, his wicked laugh ringing in Nathan’s ears.

“What have you done to me,” Nathan asked, wheezing as he spoke.

“Oh, Nathan,” The Cad replied with mock sympathy.  “You will love this one.  Absolutely love it.  You see, when I took over the mantle of The Vigilante, I discovered all of his secrets.  And boy, did he have secrets.  For example, did you know that your good friend Kurt had studied each and every one of you heroes, and had created plans for defeating you all?  You know, just in case he needed to.  Isn’t that funny?  I thought it was pretty funny.  And his plan for defeating you revolved around a certain element that is your greatest weakness.  I had no idea that such a thing existed.  An element that strips you of your powers and turns you into a weak little shell of a man.  And so, your friend, your closest comrade, took that element and turned it into a gas which he then used to fill several vials with back at his HQ.  Those vials are locked away in his vault, ready to be used at a moments notice.  A moment like, let’s say, you decide to attack The Vigilante and begin ripping off his armor.  At that moment, said gas will deploy and incapacitate you.  I hate to admit it, but that is a pure stroke of genius on our old friend Kurt’s part.  Real genius.  And paranoia too I think.  It really shows that deep down, ol’ Kurt didn’t even trust you, his best friend.”

“I gave that element to Kurt,” Nathan said, coughing as he spoke.  “I told him to keep it in case something happened to me and I needed to be stopped.”

“Oh my,” The Cad responded, laughing again.  “That’s even better!  I bet that when you gave it to him, you had no idea that it would end up in my hands, did you?”

“Is that your game-plan then,” Nathan asked, wiping blood from his mouth.  “You lure me in by taking on the guise of The Vigilante, and then you kill me with a weapon that I gave him?”

The Cad let out long sigh, shaking his head in disappointment.  “Oh Nathan.  It looks like you have an extra ordinary ego if nothing else.  You know, the universe does not revolve around you, despite what you might think.  This isn’t about me killing you.  I don’t want to kill you.  Not any more at least.  Believe it or not, this does not actually have anything to do with you at all.  You just happened to interrupt me while I was out on patrol.  The gas was just me being prepared for any contingency, that’s all.  Just like Kurt would be prepared.”

“Then why,” Nathan asked desperately.  “What is this?  What are you planning?  What is your scheme?”

The Cad tilted his head in a gesture of pity towards Nathan, and let out another long sigh.  “No plan Nathan.  No scheme, no game, no evil plot.  That’s not me any more.  I’ve turned over a new leaf.  I’m a good guy now Nathan.  Just like you.  This city needs The Vigilante, and since Kurt has passed on to fight crime in the afterlife, the torch must be passed on to someone who can keep the legacy going.  This city needs me, and I am going to be there for her.  I am The Vigilante now, and I will keep this city safe from the dregs and psychos that plague her streets!”

“This is a sick joke,” Nathan hissed.  “And I will stop you!  I will not let you do this!”

The Cad leaned  closer to Nathan, and sprayed another cloud of toxic gas directly in Nathan’s face, causing The Extraordinary Man to slump over in pain, coughing violently.

“This is happening Nathan,” The Cad said coldly.  “I am The Vigilante now, and I will bring order and justice to this city.  I do not want to fight you, I want to work with you just as Kurt did.  We can be allies if you just accept me.  But, make no mistake, if you try to stand in my way, I will kill you.  I will kill any of you that try to stand in my way.  Just as I will kill any criminal that dares to sully my city with their presence.”

The Cad backed away from Nathan, leaving him writhing in agony, picked up the pieces of his Vigilante armor, and moved to the edge of the rooftop he and Nathan had been conversing on.

“Spread the word Nathan,” The Cad called out, turning to face The Extraordinary Man.  “Tell your friends, tell your colleagues, The Vigilante is back in town, refocused on his mission for justice.  Tell them all to stay out of my way Nathan.  Tell them all that I know all of their weaknesses.  When next we meet, let us hope it will be under more pleasant circumstances, shall we?  Say, do you guys some kind of monthly club meeting, or something like that?  I’m looking forward to that.  I will be waiting patiently for my invitation.”

Nathan could only let out a pathetic whimper as he watched The Cad fall backwards off of the rooftop, and then swing away on a grappling hook, laughing hysterically as he disappeared into the night.

Ever Vigilant, Part Three

RECAP:  After returning from a mission in the wilds of space, the superhero Extraordinary Man learns that something strange had happened to his friend and colleague The Vigilante.  After disappearing for three weeks, The Vigilante returned suddenly without an explanation.  On his return, The Vigilante had become a far more violent and vicious crime-fighter.  The Extraordinary Man, also known by his real name Nathan to those closest to him, rushed to find his friend to learn what had caused his transformation into a savage executioner.  Nathan quickly discovered that the man behind the mask of The Vigilante was not his friend Kurt, but was actually The Cad, murderous arch-nemesis of The Vigilante.  Nathan forced The Cad to explain what he had done to Kurt, and The Cad was elated to tell the tale of how he had defeated his despised nemesis.

“It was brilliant,” The Cad beamed, throwing his hands towards the sky in a gesture of victory.  “My finest hour!  I planned, and I planned, and I was so certain that he would beat me yet again, as he had so many times.  But this time…..This time, he did not beat me!”

The Cad let out a devilish laugh that sent a chill down Nathan’s spine.  Nathan clenched his fists, suppressing the urge to beat The Cad senseless.

“This time,” The Cad continued, chuckling enthusiastically.  “This time I beat him!  Can you believe that?  After all these years, I, humble little ol’ me, finally defeated my one true adversary.  In a moment that will live on in my mind until the day I die, I beat The Vigilante!  Oh, and I also recorded my entire genius plan digitally as well.  Would you like to watch it?  It is quite entertaining.”

“You psychopath,” Nathan spat.

“Right again Mister Extra Ordinary Man,” The Cad laughed.  “Does that mean you don’t want to watch the video?”

“Where is he,” Nathan growled.  “What did you do with him?  Where are you holding him?”

“Holding him,” The Cad asked, letting out a long sigh.  “Now, I thought you were smarter than that.  I guess extra ordinary really does apply to you, doesn’t it?  At least as far as your mind goes.”

“Cad,” Nathan barked, grabbing the villain by his chest-plate.  “Where is The Vigilante?”

“Don’t you get it,” The Cad replied abruptly, chuckling dementedly.  “I created an elaborate scheme that pushed him to his limits and beyond.  I used those closest to him as bait, and he skipped right into my trap like the hero he is.  Or was, I should say.  He had no clue that I knew his secret identity, so it was pathetically easy to use that against him.  I’ve known his true face for years, but I always kept that from him because I didn’t want to ruin the game.  But this time, I had become frustrated from him beating me time and time again, so I finally decided to use his secret identity against him.  And, you know what, it worked!   I wore him down physically and mentally until he reached his breaking point, and then I broke him!  It was my finest moment  I broke The Vigilante!  And then, after I broke him, I cut off his mask, looked him right in the eyes, those cold, calculating eyes, and stabbed him in the throat!  I stabbed him, I stabbed him, and I stabbed him again and again!  And then, just for an extra measure, I slit his throat and washed my face with his blood as I watched him bleed to death.  Just picturing it in my mind now makes my heart swell with pride and joy.  And, just to make his last moments pure Hell, I told him how I was going to kill his loved ones that I had captured.  I tell you, it is a story that will will be passed on from generation to generation for centuries to come!”

Nathan shook his head slowly, his jaw hanging open in a mixture of shock and disbelief.  His mind suddenly flooded with a host of thoughts and images that rendered Nathan completely speechless.

“No comment,” The Cad asked, sounding disappointed.  “Nothing to say at all about my greatest moment?”

“You animal,” Nathan spat, his eyes narrowing angrily.

“Well, yes, we are all animals now, aren’t we,” The Cad asked nonchalantly.  “Some of us are just a bit more animalistic than others.”

Letting his anger take control, Nathan lifted The Cad into the air, and began ripping the armor of The Vigilante off of his gnarled body.

“What are you doing,” The Cad howled.  “You can’t do this to my armor!  This is unprofessional!”

“It isn’t your armor,” Nathan shouted.  “It belongs to The Vigilante, and I won’t let you desecrate it!”

“I am Vigilante,” The Cad roared.

“You are a murderer, and I am taking you to justice!”

As Nathan continued ripping pieces of armor off of The Cad, a green cloud of gas began to emit from underneath the pieces.  A moment later, Nathan began to feel weak as he inhaled the gas.  Before long, Nathan no longer had the strength to hold onto The Cad, and his grip on the villain loosed.  Nathan began coughing violently as he dropped to his knees, grasping his chest tightly.

“I am The Viglante,” The Cad stated coldly, glaring down at Nathan.  “Kurt is gone, and I have picked up the mantle in his place.  It’s a new world now Nathan, a violent world full of violent criminals.  Kurt was too weak to fight all that violence, and he was swallowed up by it.  But now, there is a new Vigilante in town, and he is up to the task of scouring the criminal element off of the streets of this city.  Permanently.”

“No,” Nathan wheezed, choking as he spoke.  “You can’t do this.”

“Can’t do it,” The Cad scoffed.  “Look at me Nathan.  Take a good, long look.  I’ve already done it.  And who is going to stop me?  You?  Look at yourself.  On your knees, choking and gasping for air.  You can’t stop me.”

Nathan’s heart filled with dread as he listened to the sickening sound of The Cad’s fiendish laughter ringing in his ears.

Ever Vigilant, Part Two

RECAP:  Upon returning to Earth from a journey to outer space, Nathan, also known as the superhero Extraordinary Man, learned that his friend and colleague The Vigilante had gone through a disturbing change.  After mysteriously disappearing for a brief period of time, The Vigilante continued his crime-fighting duties in a far more violent and lethal manner.  Nathan, knowing that The Vigilante had sworn an oath to never kill, decided to confront his friend in order to discover what had changed in the heart of The Vigilante.  During the confrontation, Nathan removed The Vigilante’s mask only to find that the man standing before him was not who he had expected to find.

Nathan shook his head slowly in disbelief, his ears ringing with the sickening laughter of the villain standing before him.  The villain, a monster known as The Cad, glared at Nathan with demented eyes as his maniacal laughter dissolved to an repulsive chuckle.  Feeling a surge of anger overtake him, Nathan grabbed The Cad by his chest armor, and lifted him off the ground, holding the madman in front him.

“What have you done with the Vigilante,” Nathan shouted, shaking The Cad’s body like a doll.  “Where is he?”

The Cad let out another long, boisterous laugh before replying to Nathin’s query.

“He’s dead,” The Cad spat out.  “He’s dead!  He’s dead!  He is dead!”

“You’re lying,” Nathan shouted, fighting the urge to throw the villain off of the rooftop he stood on with The Cad in his grip.

The Cad began bobbing his head from side to side, coldly repeating the word dead over and over again in alternating tones.

“Stop that,” Nathan roared.  “He’s not dead!  That’s impossible!”

“Now see,” The Cad said, turning his head to stare off into the distance blankly.  “That’s what I used to think too.  You can’t kill The Vigilante.  That’s impossible.  He can’t die.  But, you know what, he can die.  He is not a god, or a monster, or a mythical creature.  He’s just a man.  Just a vulnerable, mortal man, and he can die.  It’s kind of disappointing, really.”

“How,” Nathan began, his voice barely above a whisper.  “How did…”

“How do I know that” The Cad interrupted, finishing Nathan’s question.  “Take a wild guess.  Give up?  That’s right genius, I killed him.  Little old me.  Little old crazy, some might say insane, homicidal maniac, me.  Wanna know how I killed him?  Of course you do!  You are going to absolutely love this one!”

“Tell me what you’ve done Cad,” Nathan growled, pulling the villain closer.  “Or, so help me, I will-“

“You’ll what,” The Cad scoffed, interrupting Nathan mid-sentence.  “Beat me up?  Torture me?  Kill me?  That’s not your style cowboy.  Don’t worry, if you want to know how I killed him, I’ll gladly tell you.  Not because I’m afraid of you, but because I want you to know.  I want to tell this story.  I want to scream it out to the world, but I can’t.  But I can tell you at least.”

“You’re mad,” Nathan cried.

“No I’m not,” The Cad said, his expression softening.  “What have I got to be mad about.  I have done what few other supervillains have ever been able to do.  I killed my rival!  I’m going to go down in history for that!  Except, no one can ever know about it.  But, that makes me sad, not mad.”

“What are you talking about?  You’re not making any sense at all!”

The Cad let out another deranged laugh, a sound that pierced Nathan’s mind like the cold steel of a knife.

“You don’t know me that well,” The Cad snickered, “do you?  The Vigilante would tell you that I never make any sense.  I never did to him anyway.  But, alas, the man we both called friend has moved on to the next plane of existence.  Which one do you think he went to?  Up, or down?”

“You were not his friend,” Nathan shouted.  “How dare you try to call yourself his friend?”

“Yes, I suppose you are right,” The Cad said, his demeanor turning dour.  “What we had was more than just a common friendship.  I loved him like a brother.  And I think, deep down, he felt the same way.”

“You are insane,” Nathan whispered, shaking his head somberly.

“Now you’re getting it,” The Cad exclaimed.  “You’re not the first one to figure that out my friend!”

“I’m not your,” Nathan began, but then stopped himself when he realized the futility of his statement.  “Tell me what you’ve done to The Vigilante.”

“I told you, I killed him.”

“I know that,” Nathan shouted, his voice echoing off nearby buildings.  “Tell me your damned story.”

“Finally,” The Cad sighed.  “I thought you’d never get around to that part, dancing around the subject the way you were.”

Nathan sucked in a deep breath, and held it in his chest as he closed his eyes, trying desperately to push down the ball of rage welling up inside him.  In that moment, Nathan realized why The Vigilante hated his rival with such passion.  Beside the fact that The Cad was an insane, maniacal killer with no regard for the lives of other, he seemed to genuinely enjoy tormenting The Vigilante with the nefarious games and pranks he would play.  The enormous amount of patience that The Vigilante had to employ to keep from losing his own mind while dealing with The Cad had always impressed Nathan, but never had he realized the true extent of that patience.

“Just tell me the story,” Nathan said slowly through gritted teeth.

“Ah yes,” The Cad said, his mouth twisting into an exuberant grin.  “The moment we have all been waiting for.  Let me tell you the grand tale of how, after years of constant struggle, I finally managed to kill my greatest enemy once and for all.”

Ever Vigilant, Part One

“What is this,” Nathan asked, glaring at the computer monitor in front of him.  “Is this real?”

“I’m afraid it is Nathan,” Helena replied soberly.  “This is footage recorded off of someone’s cellphone two nights ago.  There are other videos like this on the internet as well, all of them just as violent and disturbing.”

“I don’t understand,” Nathan muttered, shaking his head in disbelief.  “I know I was away for a while, but I was barely gone for two months.  You are telling me that, in that amount of time, Kurt disappeared for, how long?”

“Three weeks,” Helena replied.  “He was gone for at least three weeks.  At first, we were all so busy with our own lives, that we didn’t even notice.  Plus, you know how secretive he is.  Sometimes he just disappears for days at a time.  After a week or so, I started to suspect that something was wrong, so I went looking for him.  I searched every inch of that damned city, but I couldn’t find a single clue to his whereabouts.”

“Not surprising,” Nathan scoffed.  “If Kurt doesn’t want to be found, then he is almost impossible to find.”

“Unless we have your powers,” Helena added.  “Unfortunately, you were off-world.  No need to apologize, I know you were taking care of something vitally important.  But, without your help, I could not find Kurt at any of his usual haunts, or anywhere else in the city.  None of his associates were able to find him either.  I was about to extend my search globally when Kurt suddenly reappeared, returning to his crime-fighting as if nothing had happened.  At first, I shrugged it off as typical behavior for Kurt, but then I began to see these videos popping up online.  They started slow at first, but then began to increase in frequency as Kurt continued his crime-fighting.”

“I’ve known Kurt a long time,” Nathan said grimly, “and I have never seen him act so violently.  Yes, he uses his fists to make his point, but this is going beyond street fighting.”

“Way beyond,” Helena agreed.  “Nathan, he’s killing people.”

“No,” Nathan exclaimed, shaking his head furiously.  “Kurt doe not kill.  Kurt has never killed to my knowledge.  Never!”

“Look closely,” Helena instructed, queuing up another video.  “This video is the most disturbing one I have seen yet.”

Nathan stared at the computer screen in disbelief as another video began to play.  In this new video, Nathan watched as his long-time friend, dressed in his full Vigilante gear, attacked a gang of common thugs who had been robbing a small jewelry store.  Nathan was horrified as he watched his friend, who had sworn to never kill anyone, began beating each thug into unconsciousness.  Within moments, Kurt was surrounded by a circle of thugs, and it was clear that the Vigilante was far outnumbered.  A moment later, Kurt pulled a gun out of his utility belt, and began shooting wildly at the criminals circling him.  Nathan gasped as he watched thug after thug drop as each one was hit with a killing shot from the gun in Kurt’s hand.  Kurt began to laugh as he shot each thug, a macabre  sound that brought chills to Nathan’s spine.   A moment later, the remaining hoodlums began to run away, and Kurt responded by pulling a large knife out of his belt and chasing down every thug he could catch, and stabbing them viciously.  Once the thieves had been dispersed, Kurt turned his attention towards the person recording the incident on their cellphone, and charged towards them.  As the cellphone fell to the ground, Nathan could no longer determine what was happening to the owner of the cellphone, but the blood-curdling screams echoing off the surrounding walls filled his heart with dread.

“I don’t,” Nathan whispered, pausing to gather his thoughts.  “I don’t understand this.  This is wrong.  This is not Kurt.  This is wrong.  I have to stop him.  I have to stop this.”

“I’ll help you Nathan,” Helena said.  “We can call the Coalition together and confront him.”

“You call them together,” Nathan said bluntly.  “I’m going after my friend.  I’m going stop him.”

“But, Nathan,” Helena began.

Before Helena could complete her thought, Nathan rushed out a nearby window, and took to the sky.  Flying as fast as he possibly could, it took only a few minutes for Nathan to reach the city his friend Kurt called home.  Overwhelmed with a mix of panic and confusion, Nathan frantically flew around the city, using his enhanced vision to search for the man known as the Vigilante.  Though it seemed like hours, Nathan’s search ended minutes later when he at last spotted the Vigilante running along a rooftop.

“Vigilante,” Nathan bellowed, his voice echoing across the cityscape.  “Hold up, it’s me, the Extraordinary Man.  I need to talk to you.”

The Vigilante looked up towards Nathan, cursed under his breath, then jumped off the roof he had been running on.  Nathan let out a gasp as he rushed down towards his friend.  As he reached the rooftop, Nathan spotted the Vigilante swinging on a grappling hook towards another building.  Nathan shook his head, and flew towards Kurt, grabbing his friend by his arms, and carrying him to a nearby rooftop.  Once he reached the roof, Nathan released the Vigilante, and landed near his friend.

“Kurt,” Nathan exclaimed, shocked at his friend’s behavior, “why are you running from me?  What is going on with you?  I know you have gone through something recently, and I just want to talk to you.”

“Leave me alone,” Kurt spat, turning his back towards Nathan.  “I don’t have anything to say to you.”

Nathan paused after hearing Kurt’s voice, his enhanced hearing immediately signaling him that something was wrong.  The sound of his friend’s voice had changed, now sounding foreign and unsettling.

“What’s wrong with your voice,” Nathan asked suspiciously.

“Nothing,” Kurt replied, clearing his throat.  “Got a cold.  Now, go away!  I’m busy!”

“No,” Nathan replied, staring at his friend skeptically.  “You’re not sick.  Your voice is different.  It’s like you are…”

Using his enhanced speed, Nathan rushed towards Kurt, grabbing his friend and tearing off his mask to reveal the identity of the man underneath.

“You’re not Kurt at all,” Nathan shouted, shocked by the unsettling face staring back at him.

“No,” the man who was not Kurt replied with a villainous grin.  “I guess I’m not.”

Nathan released his grip on the man who was not his friend, and retreated in horror as the man began to cackle wickedly.

My Comic Book Submission To Oni Press

There is a comic book publisher called Oni Press that has been publishing comics for nearly twenty years.  Back in May and June of 2015, Oni Press sent out a call to writers, artists, and other creators that they would be having an open submission.  It has always been a dream of mine to be a comic book writer, so I thought I would give it a shot.  Unfortunately, I did not find out about the open submissions until the middle of June when the deadline was nearing, but I would not let that stop me.  I spent every moment I could, when I wasn’t working my day job or sleeping, working on my submission, and I ended up completing it the day before the deadline was up.  The submission was based on an idea I have had in my mind for several years that has evolved over time that I had titled Psi-Fi.  I know, that is not the strongest title in the world, but when I originally came up with it years ago, it gave me a chuckle, so I stuck with it as a “placeholder” title.  I probably should have come up with a better title for my submission, but I could not think of one in the time I had to complete the submission.

And so, with one day left before Oni Press’ deadline was up, I sent in my submission as I held my breath.  Keep in mind that there are a lot of aspiring comic book writers out there, and so it took some time for Oni Press to get to my submission and answer me back.  As I waited, my nerves eventually subsided, and I continued on with my life, all but forgetting that I had sent in the submission except for the occasional moment when it would briefly pop into my mind.

Then, on August 14th, I received the following reply from Oni Press:

Dear Derrick Nadeau,
Thank you for sending us “Submission for the comic book series Psi-Fi”. We know how hard pitching can be and we appreciate your earnest effort, your willingness to put yourself out there, and the opportunity you gave us to read it.
Unfortunately, this pitch is not a fit for us at this time. We encourage you to continue honing your craft and developing new stories. A passion for storytelling should never be extinguished by a rejection and we sincerely hope you are able to find the appropriate outlet for your work.
Unfortunately, due to the volume of submissions we have received, we are unable to give feedback on specific submissions.
Thanks again and best of luck.
Oni Press

So, there you have it.  My first ever submission to a comic book company was rejected.  To be honest, I was not really saddened or even disappointed by the news.  In fact, I kind of suspected that this would be the end result of my submission, so I was not even surprised.  It is, unfortunately, the nature of being a writer that we must be subjected to rejection, and it is up to us to us writers to not let such rejection dissuade us from our course to realizing our dreams.  Unfortunately, Oni Press was not able to offer me any feedback, so I don’t have anything to work with to improve my next submission (Yes, there will be other submissions, fear not.), but I have gone over my submission and made my own notes on what I could improve on.

One thing I thought would be a good way to help myself improve is to post my submission here on my blog, and let others see it and perhaps even offer advice or helpful criticisms.  With that being said, feel free to read my submission and comment on it if you have any tips you would like to offer.    The submission is posted exactly as I sent it to Oni Press without any changes or revision made, Though it has been condensed for this blog.  Looking at my submission now, I see so many things that I wish I had written differently.  If only I had heard about the open submissions sooner, I could have spent more time fine-tuning my submission.  At least I have learned something for the next time I send in a submission.

And so, without further adieu, here is my comic book submission to Oni Press.

Logline for the comic series Psi-Fi

Psi-fi is the story of a peacekeeper with psionic powers tasked with investigating the violent deaths of his fellow psionics.  The investigation leads to the discovery of a powerful psion who is killing his brethren and stealing their energies to turn himself into the most powerful being in the world.

One Page Synopsis for Psi-Fi

Psi-fi is a book that takes a different approach to the fantasy genre.  The setting of the book is similar in appearance and technology level to that of the Old West, while the main character of the book, Hurai, and his Saan brethren are closer in tone to the samurai of feudal Japan. Rather than using magic, which is already prevalent in most fantasy stories, the Saan in my book are a society of psionic user users living among the normal citizens of the world.

The main character of the book, Saan Hurai, is a peacekeeper for the Saan.  During the course of the story, Hurai will investigate a series of savage murders, discover a greater plot behind the murders, and even fall in love as he uncovers a conspiracy that will directly affect his life, and the life of his family.

Outline for Psi-fi

Although I do not have an exact issue count for Psi-fi, I do have a specific beginning, middle, and end for the book which I will describe in this outline.

The story begins with the savage murder of an artist.  Initial autopsy of the artist reveals that the mind of the artist has been completely wiped away, which seems to be the cause of his death.

The hero of the book, Hurai, a peacekeeper for the psionic organization known as the Saan, begins to investigate the murder of the artist.  This investigation leads Hurai to the horrible discovery of a clan of former psionics whose minds have been warped to the point that they are nothing more than mindless, savage, animalistic creatures that attack other psionics and syphon all of their psychic energy, killing the victim in the process.  The Saan decide to call these creatures “psionic vampires”.

Hurai continues his investigation, tracking the psionic vampires to a frontier mining town.  As Hurai investigates the town, he is struck by the abnormal behavior of the townsfolk that live there.  With his suspicions aroused, Hurai decides to spend the night in the town.  Hurai wakes himself late in the night to quietly investigate the town.  As he investigates, Hurai quickly discovers that the town is empty, and tries to discover what has happened to the denizens of the mining town.  As Hurai continues his investigation, he discovers the townsfolk inside the mine, all gathered together, sitting silently and staring blankly at a single man standing before them, performing a strange ceremony.  Hurai attempts to use his astral ability to move closer to the gathering in secret, but is quickly discovered by the leader of the gathering.  Hurai is then attacked by a large group of psionic vampires, and has to fight his way out of the situation, barely escaping with his life.

Hurai then returns to his superiors, and gives his report on the situation.  Hurai’s superiors determine that the strange ceremony was a forbidden ritual performed by an exiled Saan, thought to be dead, that will allow the man to control the minds of the townspeople.  Hurai learns that the man, named Kier was exiled because he was attempting to learn and use Saan abilities that could directly read and control people’s minds, abilities that have long been outlawed as dangerous by the Saan.

Armed with this knowledge, the leaders of the Saan peacekeepers decide to team Saan Hurai up with a woman named Janea, who is a Saan Judicator.  The Saan Judicators are a small group of Saan specifically chosen and trained to read minds for the purpose of judging criminals innocence, without affecting those minds in any way.  Janea is chosen to assist Hurai in his investigation so that she can teach him how to combat and repell any mental attacks that Kier might attempt.  During his training, Hurai and Janea see inside each other’s minds and begin to fall in love.

Once Hurai’s quick training is complete, he and Janea head back to the frontier mining town to confront Kier.  While making camp one night, Hurai’s mind is invaded by Kier, who has been waiting for his return.  Janea wakes the next morning to find Hurai missing, and tracks him back to the frontier mining town where she discovers that Hurai’s mind has been taken over by Kier.  Kier commands Hurai to kill Janea, and Janea defends herself by entering Hurai’s mind and tricking him into reliving a childhood trauma.  Hurai breaks from Kier’s control, and he and Janea then manage to defeat Kier.

Hurai and janea return to their lives as their romance grows, thinking that Kier has been eliminated.  What they don’t know, and what the audience will discover, is that Kier is still very much alive, and has spies in the Saan organization, including Saan Hurai’s commanding officer, Saan Raon.  We learn through a secret conversation between Kier and Raon that Kier has had visions about Saan Hurai giving Kier the power he needs to become a psychic god.  A plan is then set in motion by Kier and Raon to use Saan Hurai as a pawn to accomplish their goals.

From this point on, the story will focus on Hurai and his various adventures as Kier and Raon watch and guide him from behind the scenes.  As Hurai hunts down roaming psychic vampires and other Saan criminals, he marries Janea, and the two eventually have a son.  The birth of Hurai’s son is the moment when Kier sets the next stage of his plan in motion.

Kier kidnaps Hurai’s newborn son, holding the boy hostage as he performs another outlawed ritual on him.  Hurai, along with some of his Saan squadmates and Raon, who has kept his allegiance with Kier a secret, hunt down Kier and rescue his son from the villain.  The story ends with Hurai interrupting Kier’s ritual and confronting him.  During the course of the battle, it appears that Hurai kills Kier, who is weakened from the ritual.  What Hurai does not know is that Kier has actually managed to transfer his consciousness into the mind of Hurai’s son, where he will remain dormant until the child joins the Saan Academy.

At this point, the story will jump ahead several years to the point where Hurai’s son, named Surou, is a teenager and is enrolled in the Saan academy.  While at the academy, Surou begins to see visions of a man who wants him to learn the outlawed Saan abilities to read and control people’s minds.  The man in Surou’s vision is of course Hurai’s old nemesis, Kier, beginning the next stage of his plans, the corruption of Hurai’s son, Surou.

As Kier tightens the grip on the young lad’s mind, Surou’s personality begins to darken and change.  Surou begins practicing with his newly acquired abilities, using his fellow students as test subjects.  When the academy finds out what Surou has been doing, they confront the boy, which results in Surou using his new abilities to kill one of his teachers.

Surou is punished for his crimes not only by being exiled from the Saan academy, but also by being banished to the Wraith Forest.  The Wraith Forest is a “haunted” forest where the Saan send their criminals for punishment.  The ghosts that haunt the forest are, in reality, the psychic essences of the Saan that have been exiled there.  When a Saan is sent to the forest, the wraiths of the forest attack that Saan and rip his psychic essence from the Saan’s mind.

Surou, with the power and abilities he gains from his connection to Kier, not only survives the Wraith Forest, but also learns to control the wraiths of the forest as well.  Surou leaves the forest, and comes across a group of people that need help.  This group is from a small town that is under attack from a force they can’t handle, and are seeking assistance with their troubles.  Surou decides to help the town with their problem, and then uses the wraiths he is now controlling to take over the minds of the townsfolk in order to begin building an army.

Once he has his army, Surou sets a plan in motion that he and Kier have created together.  The plan involves the capture of Saan Batteries, those who have no real abilities of their own, but who have an abundance of psychic energy that they can pass on to other Saan.  As Surou and his army continue kidnapping Batteries, the Saan send Hurai and his squad to investigate.

Hurai is devastated to discover that it is his son, who he thought dead after being exiled to the Wraith Forest, who is kidnapping the Saan Batteries.  The reason Surou is kidnapping Saan Batteries is so that he can syphon their energies to gain the power needed to release Kier from his mind, allowing Kier’s own mind to become so powerful that he becomes a psychic god.  This leads to a confrontation between Saan Hurai and his son, Surou, which results in Hurai being forced to kill his own son in order to prevent Kier from becoming so powerful.

What Hurai does not realize is that by sacrificing his son, he has unwillingly helped Kier complete his plan.  Kier escapes the dead body of Hurai’s son, Surou, and becomes a being of pure psychic energy, a being the Saan refer to as a psychic god.

As God-Kier begins to wreak havoc and spread chaos across the land, Hurai calls on his wife, Saan Judicator Janae to help him stop God-Kier.  Janae and Hurai determine that the only way to defeat the God-Kier is for them both to sacrifice themselves and use the same procedure Kier used to become psychic gods themselves.  After an intense battle, Hurai and Janae are able to destroy God-Kier, but at a great cost to themselves.

The defeat of god-Kier is the end of the story for Saan Hurai and his family, and is the finale I have planned for this series.

Psi-Fi first scene script

I have included two scenes from the first issue of Psi-Fi in my submission as requested.  The first scene, a short, three page scene, is the opening prologue of the first issue, and introduces the reader to the world of Psi-Fi

Page One

Panel 1: This is a full page splash of a lush forest with large trees of various types.  The floor of the forest is covered with an assortment of bushes and different types of flowers and plants.  In the center of the panel, a path stretches from the bottom of the panel out into the forest.  There is a man named Mathus walking down the path into the forest with his back turned to the reader.  Mathus is an artist, and is dressed in simple clothes that are covered in splotches of various colors of paint.  Mathus is carrying various paint supplies as he heads into the forest, an easel, a canvas, paints, brushes, etc.  As he walks, Mathus is looking up towards the tops of the trees and we can see the side of his face.  He is obviously happy and content as he takes in the beauty surrounding him.

  1. Mathus (speaking to himself):                     This right here is my idea of paradise.
  2. Mathus (speaking to himself): A quiet forest to enjoy, and not a single soul around other than me.
  3. Mathus (speaking to himself): I can feel the energy flowing through this forest and                reaching out to me.
  4. Mathus (speaking to himself) :                               I should be able to create an amazing piece in this place.

 Page Two

Panel 1:  Medium shot of Mathus as he is setting up his easel and canvas in a small clearing in the forest.

  1. Narration: As Mathus sets up his canvas and paints, he reaches out with his mind to harvest the psychic energies of the forest and its inhabitants.

Panel 2:  Mathus sits down on the ground, with his legs crossed, facing his easel and canvas.

  1. Narration:                  As a Saan Artist, Mathus utilizes his psychic skills to create his art.

Panel 3:  Close up on Mathus’ face.  His eyes are closed, and it is obvious that he is now in deep concentration.

  1. Narration: The Saan are a race of psychically powered humans that use their mental abilities to enhance their functions in society.

Panel 4:  Same close-up on Mathus, but this time, there are two paintbrushes floating beside his head.  Each brush has a different color of paint on it. 

  1. Narration: There are Saan from every walk of life, including warriors and healers, as well as artists and craftsmen.

Panel 5:  Close-up of the canvas as Mathus paints on it.  There are a couple of paint strokes on the canvas as the two brushes place more paint on it.  All the painting is done psychically by Mathus without the use of his hands.

  1. Narration: To create his art, Mathus pulls the psychic energies surrounding him to find inspiration and to influence his work.

Panel 6:  Back to the close-up of Mathus’ face.  Now, his face is contorted to show that he is suddenly appears to be in pain.

  1. Narration: When the surroundings are peaceful, Mathus is capable of creating serene images of pure beauty.    But a forest is not always at peace…

 Page Three

Panel 1:  Medium shot of Mathus on the floor of the forest.  He is doubled over in pain, clutching his head.

  1. Mathus: Hyaaarrrggghhhh!!!!

Panel 2:  Close up of Mathus.  He is throwing his head back and clutching at his temples.  His eyes have rolled back into his head, revealing the whites of his eyes.  There is foamy spittle shooting out of his mouth.

  1. Mathus: Gurrrrrggggg!

Panel 3:  This panel will take up a large percentage of the page.  It is an aerial shot of Mathus sprawled out on the forest floor.  He is now dead, and his body is contorted to show that he died in great pain as if his brain has exploded in his head.  There is blood oozing from his eyes, mouth, and nose.  His eyes are still rolled back in his head exposing the whites of his eyes.

Panel 4:  This will also be a large panel similar in size to panel 3.  This panel will be a close up shot of the painting Mathus had been working on.  It is a dark image of a demonic looking face.  The colors are all deep blacks and greys except for the eyes of the face which appear to be glowing blue.  The mouth of the face is snarling and full of fang-like teeth.

  1. Narration: Some forests house sinister energies.

End First Scene

Scene Two Script

This scene from the first issue of Psi-Fi is six pages long, and is the introduction to the main hero of the book, Saan Hurai.

Page 1

Panel 1:  Sann Hurai sits on the ground against a tree and closes his eyes.  The other four members of his squad take positions around him, standing guard over Hurai as he concentrates.

Panel 2:  Mirror panel one, with the addition of an astral projection of Saan Hurai leaving his body.

  1. Narration: Hurai focuses his psionic energy to create an astral projection of himself.

Panel 3:  Wide shot of Hurai’s astral form heading towards the outlaws’ hideout.

  1. Naration: Using this mental projection of himself, Hurai will scout the interior of the outlaw hideout.

Panel 4:  Close up of the front door of the outlaw hideout.  The astral projection of Saan Hurai is now phasing right through the door.

1:  Narration:                                      Once his scouting mission is complete, Hurai will return to his body and relay the information he has learned to his squad.

Panel 5:  Mirror panel  4, but this time, Hurai’s astral projection is exiting through the front door.

  1. Caption:                Minutes later

Panel 6:  Medium shot of the astral projection of Saan Hurai returning to his body.

Panel 7:  This will be a thin panel running across the bottom of the page directly under Panel Five and Panel Six.  It is a tight close up of Saan Hurai’s eyes snapping open.

  1. Saan Hurai: I have returned.

Page Two

Panel 1:  Medium shot-  Saan Hurai’s squad leader is turning to face him.  The expression on the leader’s face is stern and serious.

  1. Squad Leader: Report.

Panel 2:  This will be a medium shot of Hurai speaking with his squad leader.  The two men will be on either side of the panel with the word balloons appearing between them.

  1. Hurai: Sir.  There are six occupants in the house.
  2. Hurai: Four men sit at a table in the kitchen of the house playing cards.
  3. Hurai: Our suspect occupies a large bed room in the upstairs of the house.
  4. Hurai: He lies in bed, sleeping, with a woman sleeping beside him.

Panel 3:  Close up of the squad leader.  He is rubbing his chin thoughtfully.

  1. Squad Leader: Excellent work.  And there is nothing else to report?
  2. Hurai (off-panel) No sir.
  3. Squad Leader: Then let us begin.

Panel 4:  Wide shot of Hurai and his squad running towards the outlaw’s hideout.  They are moving as quickly and quietly as they can to remain undetected.

Panel 5:  Medium shot of Hurai’s squad taking positions around the front door of the hideout.  Hurai kneels down in front of the door, preparing to pick the lock.

 Page Three

Panel 1:  Close-up of Hurai placing his hand over the lock of the front door and closing his eyes in concentration.

Panel 2:  Close-up of Hurai’s hand on the lock.  His hand has a faint green aura around it.

Narration:                                           As a scout, Hurai is able to use his psionic energies to easily pick any lock.

SFX:                                                       Click

SFX:                                                       Click

SFX:                                                       Klakk

Panel 3:  Medium shot of Hurai with his hand on the doorknob of the hideout.  He is looking up towards the direction of his squad leader.

  1. Hurai: We’re in.

Panel 4:  Close-up of the Squad Leader.  He is waving his hand to signal his squad to move into the building.

  1. Squad Leader: Quietly now. Follow Hurai’s lead.
  2. Squad Leader: Go!

Page Four

Panel 1:  Medium shot of Hurai and his squad quickly sneaking in the front door of the hideout.  They are trying to be as quiet as possible while also trying to be as quick as possible.

Panel 2:  Medium shot of Hurai and his squad, now inside the hideout, taking positions around another door.  This door leads to the kitchen of the hideout.

Panel 3:  Close-up of Hurai kneeling in front of the kitchen door.  His eyes are closed, and he has his left hand resting flat against the door.

  1. Narration: Hurai reaches out with his mind, taking a psychic reading of his surroundings.

Panel 4:  Close up of Hurai.  His eyes are open now, and he using his hand to signal to his squad that there are four men on the other side of the door.

  1. Narration: With this ability, he is able to detect the life signs of any human or animal in his vicinity.

Panel 5:  Close up of the Squad Leader.  He is signaling another member of Hurai’s squad to come forward.

Page Five

Panel 1:  Medium shot of Hurai’’s squad-mate, Stoffe moving into positon beside the kitchen door.  Stoffe is a tall, thin man with a long face.  He has a short beard and dark hair.

  1. Narration: Hurai’s squad-mate, Stoffe has developed the ability to manipulate weaker minds so that they will not see things that Stoffe does not want them to see.

Panel 2:  Medium shot of the kitchen door.  As Stoffe kneels down on the left side of the door with his eyes closed and his hands raised towards the kitchen, Hurai and his squad begin to rush into the kitchen.

  1. Narration: Utilizing this ability, Stoffe is able to hide the presence of his squadmates from the outlaws in the kitchen as they move in to incapacitate them.

Panel 3:  A thin, wide panel that stretches across the page underneath panel 1 and panel 2.  It is wide shot of the interior of the kitchen.  It is a standard looking 1800s old west type of kitchen with a wood stove and large basin sink in the background.  In the center of the room, there is a square, wooden table.   There are four men sitting on each side of the table.  These men are  outlaws, and are all rough, burly, and appear to be rather strong.  Each man is dressed in plain, dirty clothes, and each has a revolver holstered on his hip.  Hurai, his squad leader, and his two remaining squadmates are each standing directly behind a different outlaw.

  1. Narration: So powerful is Stoffe’s ability that even when Hurai and his squad are standing directly behind a man, they are still not detected.

Panel 4:  Mirror the wide shot of Panel 3 with Hurai and his squad standing behind the outlaws sitting at the kitchen table.  Now, each member of Hurai’s squad has activated their psionic blades, and are holding them in a ready to strike position over the outlaws.

Note-The psychic blades of the Saan are swords, or sometimes daggers, made of pure psychic energy, and should look like they are made of pure energy.  The blades are focused through hilts made of crystal.  Each hilt is carved by its owner out of a crystal that helps to focus psychic energy into the blade.

The crystals are translucent, and glows slightly from the energy passing through it.  Each member of the Saan can determine the color of their blade.  Saan Hurai, for example, will have a bright green colored sword, similar to a Japanese Katana.

Page Five (Continued)

  1. Narration: Every Saan warrior learns to channel their psionic energies through a Psion Crystal to create a weapon of their own choosing.

Panel 5:  Medium shot of Saan Hurai attacking the outlaw in front of him with his psionic sword.  Hurai is washed in the glow of his sword as it strikes the outlaw.

  1. Narration: A Saan uses his psychic blade to incapacitate an opponent. The blade can stun anyone it strikes by temporarily shutting down their brain synapses.


Panel 6:  Medium shot of the now unconscious outlaw sliding out of his chair and hitting the floor.  Saan Hurai has deactivated his psychic blade, but is still holding the hilt in his hand.

  1. Narration: If need be, a Saan can also increase the power of his blade to permanently shut down their opponents brain, killing the foe in the process.

Page Six

Panel 1:  Full shot of a large bedroom.  There is a Wardrobe cabinet on one wall of the room, and a dresser with a mirror attached on another wall, near the door of the room.  In the center of the room is a king sized bed.  Everything in the room looks fancy and expensive.  There are two people sleeping in the bed, a man and a woman.  The man , who is on the right side of the bed if you are standing at the foot, is young, in his mid-twenties, and very handsome with short, blonde hair and chiseled features.  The woman, who is on the left side,  is also young and attractive, early twenties at the most, with long brown hair.

  1. Caption: Upstairs.
  2. SFX: Click
  3. SFX: Click
  4. SFX: Klakk

Panel 2:  Medium shot of Saan Hurai and his squad rushing through the door into the bedroom.  Hurai and his squad leader enter first, igniting their swords and taking defensive positions at the foot of the bed.  The squad leader is pointing towards the man in the bed as he is barking an order.  The man and woman in the bed are now awake and sitting up in the bed.  Both appear to be naked with the man being shirtless, and the woman covering herself with the blanket.

  1. Saan Squad Leader: Saan Jerotte, you are under arrest for violating Saan Law! Come along peacefully, and you will not be harmed!
  2. Man in bed (aka Saan Jerotte) What….What is going on here?

Panel 3:  Close up of the Saan Squad Leader.  He is still pointing and shouting at Jerotte.  His face has an angry expression.

  1. Saan Squad Leader: You are in violation of several Saan laws, which include fraud, racketeering, and using your psionic abilities to influence and abuse non-psionic citizens.
  2. Saan Squad Leader: Come along peacefully, or we will use force to subdue you.


Page Six (Continued)

Panel 4:  Wide shot of the bedroom from the perspective of Saan Jerotte.  The back of Jerrotte can be seen in the foreground, raising both of his hands towards Hurai’s squad who are standing in a defensive formation around the bedroom.

  1. Saan Jerotte: No!!

Panel 5:  Mirror the behind the back wide shot from panel 4.  Jerotte is still holding his arms up towards Hurai’s squad.  This time, Hurai’s squad is being thrown back against the bedroom wall, the result of Saan Jerotte using a powerful telekinetic push against the squad.   The squad is obviously surprised by this attack, and it shows on their faces.

  1. SFX: Crash!

Panel 6:  Close-up of Saan Jerotte getting out of bed.  He is using his right hand to steady himself while continuing to point his left hand towards the squad who are trying to recover from their crash into the bedroom wall.  Saan Jerotte has an evil smile on his face as he stares down his opponents.

  1. Saan Jerotte: No. I don’t think I’m going to make it so easy for you.

End Scene Two

The Natural Order, Part One

Written by Derrick Nadeau

“At ease soldiers,” Staff Sargent Riley said, addressing the squad of soldiers standing at attention in the briefing room before him.  “Take your seats and pay attention.”  As the squad quickly and quietly sat down, Staff Sargent Riley activated the computer terminal in front of him, bringing up an image of an earth-like planet on the large view-screen behind him.  Riley cleared his throat, and continued speaking to the squad.  “This planet is called Paxterra.  It is a newly discovered Earth-type planet that is approximately thirty light-years from Earth.  A small, scientific outpost has been built on this planet for the purposes of studying it for possible future colonization.  As you no doubt are aware, every scientific outpost is also populated with an army unit that is tasked with the protection of the scientists inhabiting the outpost.

Staff Sargent Riley paused briefly as he changed the image on the large view-screen to show an aerial view of a science outpost.  “This is an image of the outpost shorty after it was constructed taking by a satellite orbiting the planet.

Riley paused again as he changed the screen image to show another aerial view of the outpost.  In this picture, the outpost was  heavily damaged, with large plumes of smoke pouring out of several of the buildings.  “This is an image of the outpost taken by that same satellite approximately three weeks ago.  Though we are unsure the exact cause of the destruction seen here, we believe that the outpost was attacked.  Two days before this satellite image was taken, we intercepted this communication from the outpost.

Staff Sargent Riley turned to face the view-screen as the video image of a woman dressed in a white lab-coat appeared.  The woman appeared to be in her thirties, with short, black hair, and glasses.  A moment later, the  video activated, and the woman began to speak in a frantic tone.  “This is Doctor Eileen Stone at science outpost 12 on the planet Paxterra.  If there is any military unit out ther that can hear this message, we are currently under attack and need assistance!  I repeat we are under attack and need assistance!  Please!  We need-“

The video ended abruptly, cutting Doctor Stone off in mid-sentence as the video froze, then switched to a message that read, “signal lost”. Staff Sargent Riley turned off the view-screen, then turned back to address his soldiers, many of whom were whispering to each other quietly.

“This abbreviated message,” Riley stated, “along with the accompanying satellite image of the damaged outpost, is all of the information we have for this mission.  We have no intel on the nature of the attack on Outpost Twelve, nor do we have any intel on the identity of the attacker or the motive behind the attack.  Immediately after intercepting this message approximately sixty hours ago, a report was sent to Earth command, and the order was given for this unit to investigate the outpost on Paxterra, determine what occurred there, and, if necessary, eliminate any threat that is discovered there.  Upon reaching Paxterra and entering orbit around the planet, you will shuttle down to the planet surface.  The mission will be begin with a recon of the outpost and its surrounding area to determine the condition of the outpost.  Once the shuttle crew determines it is safe, you will land on the shuttle pad constructed adjacent to the outpost.  Once you land, Brawn team will deploy first to secure the outpost, and reactivate the generators if they have been damaged.  Once secured, Brain team will deploy and begin their investigation.  Learn everything you can about the outpost and the incident that damaged said outpost and report back to me for debriefing.  Are there any questions about this mission?”

“I have one question, Sir,” Private Richards said, standing up to address the Staff Sargent.  “What do we know about this Doctor Stone who sent out the distress call?”

“Doctor Stone is a member of the Xeno-biologist team on Outpost Twelve.  She and her team work directly under their team leader, Doctor Melissa Nichols.  It is unclear the current status of Doctor Nichols, or the rest of her team.  Are there any other questions?” Riley paused and took a quick glance around the room, giving each soldier a chance to speak up.  When no other question had been asked, Riley dismissed the squad, telling them to be ready to depart in five hours.

“That was a good question you asked there, Dave,” Private Dwyer said with a wry smile.  “Leave it to you to focus on the hot scientist there.  We all know where your priorities are, don’t we?”

“Funny Erick,” Private Richards replied, jabbing his elbow into Erick’s arm.  “I thought it was a good question that might yeild some important information about our mission.”

“Listen to you talking like an egghead,” Dwyer laughed.  “yield important information?  Right!  Admit it, you’re hoping to go down there and rescue that scientist and hope that she falls madly in love with you.”

“You are such and ass,” Richards exclaimed, shaking his head in disgust.  “You truly have the mind of a savage.  All you can think about is killing and sex.”

“Hey, that’s not fair,” Dwyer shouted, feigning indignation.  “I think about food a lot too!”

“Whatever man,” Richards said, turning away from Dwyer.  “Why don’t you just go get ready for the mission.  We don’t have time for your ballbusting.”

“Fine,” Dwyer said, throwing his hands up in a gesture of frustration.  “You eggheads on the ‘Brain’ team have no sense of humor.  You know that man, no sense of humor at all.  Maybe I’ll be the one to rescue Doc Stone there, and maybe I’ll be the one she falls for.  How does that sound to you?”

“Is there a problem here Private,” Staff Sargent Riley asked as he approached Dwyer.

“No Sir,” Dwyer replied, snapping to attention and saluting his commanding officer.  “No problem at all.  Private Richards and I were just having conversation regarding the mission, Sir.”

“Good to hear,” Riley stated.  “Then you should be well prepared for the coming mission.  You had better go and gather up your gear then, and prepare for departure in five hours.”

“Yes Sir,” Dwyer said, saluting again before turning away from Staff Sargent Riley and exiting the briefing room.

Enhanced Rivalry: Issue One

Written by Derrick Nadeau

Adam sat stiffly in the uncomfortable plastic chair of the waiting room in the recruiter’s office, trying his best to calm his overactive nerves as he waited for his meeting.  As he waited, Adam stared at the poster hanging on the wall directly across from him.  On the poster, a group of three men and one woman dressed in military uniforms were saluting as they seemed to be floating in the middle of a sky of deep blue dotted with a handful of small clouds.  At the bottom of the poster, a slogan in large, bold letters read, “Be more than you ever thought you could be, join the Enhanced Corps.”  Adam sucked in a deep breath as he stared at the poster, and let it out very slowly.  Adam’s dreams of joining the Enhanced Corps, a branch of the military consisting of enlisted men and women with genetic enhancements that give each soldier their own set of “enhanced” capabilities, began at a very early age.  As far back as Adam could remember, he would watch commercials for the Enhanced Corps on television, and dream of being an enhanced soldier with special powers.  When his brother, Neil entered the Corps two years previously, Adam’s desire to become an enhanced soldier  became almost unbearable.  Any time Neil would come home on leave from the Corps, Adam would beg his brother to tell him every story he could about his time in the military.  On his eighteenth birthday, Adam had rushed down to the recruiter’s office and began a series of tests designed to determine if he would be eligible to become an enhanced soldier.  So lost in his own thoughts about his joining the Elite was Adam, that he did not notice the Corps recruiter, an officer named Joseph Hindlen, standing near him until the recruiter cleared his throat.

“Oh,” Adam said, quickly jumping to his feet.  “Officer Hindlen, I didn’t even notice you coming out of your office.”

“Yes,” Hindlen said, glancing towards the poster Adam had been studying.  “I noticed you were preoccupied.  Dreaming of the future?”

“Yes Sir,” Adam replied, feeling a small bit of embarrassment.  “I guess I was.  I was trying to calm my nerves, really.”

“Well, it is pretty common for hopeful recruits to feel their nerves when they are going through this process.  Why don’t we go into my office then and we can finally get this over with.”

“Yes Sir,” Adam responded, feeling uneasy by the wording of Officer Hindlen’s last sentence.  Adam followed Hindlen into his office, taking a seat in another plastic chair opposite a metal desk in the center of the office.  As Officer Hindlen took a seat behind the desk, Adam took the moment to glance around the office.  Though plain and simple, Hindlen’s office and desk were both meticulously organized.  The walls of the office were bare with the exception of a single poster on the wall advertising the Enhanced Corps.  Adam noticed that Hindlen’s desk was mostly bare, with only a single picture frame, turned to face Officer Hindlen, accompanying the sparse office instruments and file folders.

“All right then,” Hindlen said, opening a folder and placing it on the desk in front of him.”I have gone through the results of all your testing as well as your psych evaluation, and I have the unfortunate duty to inform you that you have been rejected from the Enhanced Corps.”

“I’m sorry,” Adam said, staring at the recruiter in disbelief.  “Rejected?”

“Yes,” Hindlen replied stoically.  “I apologize for being so blunt, but I don’t believe in beating around the bush as they say.  I feel it’s best to just be as direct and deliberate as I possibly can be.  I find it’s best to prevent any kind of false hope about something that is not possible according to your evaluation.”

“B-but,” Adam stammered, dumbfounded, “I don’t understand.  I have wanted to be an elite soldier since I was a kid.  How could I…Why have I been rejected?  How is that possible?”

Officer Hindlen cleared his throat, then began shuffling through the papers in Adam’s file.  “Well, as you are aware, as part of the entrance examinations required to enter the Corps, all potential candidates are subjected to a full mental evaluation by a team of Corps Recruitment Psychics.  Unfortunately, our psychics determined that your mental profile was not up to par according to Corps Recruitment Policy.”

“I don’t understand,” Adam said, shaking his head furiously.  “Are you saying I can’t join the Corps because I am stupid?”

“No,” Hindlen replied quickly, letting out a sigh before continuing.  “The evaluation has nothing to do with your intelligence level.  What the psychics are looking for is flaws in your personality that would prevent you from becoming an ideal Elite Soldier.”

“Flaws in my personality,” Adam repeated angrily.  “Are you kidding me?”

“I do not joke around when it comes to new recruits Adam,” Hindlen replied flatly.

“Well then, can you tell me what they found that made them reject me?”

“I’m sorry,” Hindlen replied, quickly closing Adams file.  “That information is classified.”

“Classified,” Adam repeated angrily.  “You can’t even tell me why I am being rejected?  Seriously?  What kind of bullshit is this?”

“Adam,” Hindlen said calmly, holding his hand out towards Adam in a halting motion.  “I think you need to calm down.  Take a deep breath and get a hold of yourself.”

“How can you tell me to get a hold of myself after this,” Adam shouted, practically jumping out of his chair as he rose to his feet.  “You are denying me my life long dream, and you won’t even give me an actual reason why!  What the hell do you expect from me here?”

“I expect you to act like an adult,” Hindlen said, his voice remaining calm and steadfast.  “Look at yourself right now.  Look at how you are reacting to what I have told you.  Maybe you should take that as a clue as to why you are being rejected.”

“This is the biggest load of bull I have ever seen in my entire life,” Adam barked bitterly.  “I am not going to put up with this!  I am going to go over your head if I have to!  I’m going to-“

Adam found himself suddenly unable to continue speaking as his body became fully paralyzed, leaving him completely immobilized where he stood. Hindlen remained seated, calmly staring down the angry young man.

“You seem to be forgetting that, as an officer in the Elite Corps, I too have my own set of abilities.  Those abilities, along with my personality and calm demeanor, have made me the ideal soldier for recruitment services.  One of those abilities you are experiencing at this very moment, that’s why you find yourself currently mobilized.  Some of my other abilities allowed me to participate in your psychic evaluation, so believe me when I tell you that our findings regarding your personality flaws are accurate.  I am sorry to have to give you the unfortunate news, Adam, but you have been deemed unsuitable for the Elite Corps, and have therefore been rejected.  I understand that you are angry and upset, but this kind of behavior is unacceptable, and will not be tolerated.  I am going to release you in a moment, and I expect you to behave like an adult and vacate my office without causing any more of a scene.  I hope that is perfectly understood, because you do not want to push my patience any further.”

Adam suddenly felt his body loosen up, and he knew that Hindlen had released him.  Adam’s mind raced with angry thoughts as he stared at the recruiter furiously.  Swearing under his breath, Adam then stormed out of the recruiter’s office and continued stomping through the waiting room until he reached the sidewalk outside.  Adam spotted a small trash can near the door of the recruiting office, and began to kick it angrily, swearing under his breath as he did.

“Whoah,” a male voice exclaimed from behind Adam.  “Looks like someone’s bubble just got burst.”

Adam turned quickly to see a tall, thin man who appeared to be in his early twenties standing behind him.  A young woman with blue hair stood next to the man, smiling at Adam.  Both the man and woman sported leather bomber jackets two yellow stripes on the left arms of the jackets.

“What the hell do you want,” Adam barked.  “I’m not in the mood to deal with any shit right now.”

“Take it easy man,” the young man said, smirking at Adam.  “We’re not here to give you any shit.  We just saw that you were upset, and we thought you might need some friendly faces to talk to.”

“Friendly faces,” Adam scoffed.  “I don’t even know you people.”

“True,” the woman said, still smiling.  “But I bet we have more in common than you realize.  Let me guess, you just got rejected by the Elite Corps, right?  They gave you some bull about not meeting up to their standards or some shit like that?”

“Yeah,” Adam replied.  “Something like that.  They said it had something to do with my psychic profile.  Said my personality or something doesn’t match up with their policies.  Sounded like a load of crap to me.”

“We can totally relate,” the man said, putting his hand on the woman’s shoulder.  “Me and Katherine here were rejected by the Corps too.  For equally crappy reasons.”

“Really,” Adam asked, raising a suspicious eyebrow.

“Really,” Katherine replied.  “Jeff and I are both rejects, just like you.  How funny is that?”

“So, what, you guys just hang around the recruiter’s office waiting for rejects like me to come out?  For what?  So you can console me or something?”

“No man,” Jeff replied, moving closer to Adam so he could drop his voice to a whisper.  “We’re here to tell you that there is another way.”

“Another way for what,” Adam asked cautiously.

“For you to get the power you are looking for,” Katherine replied in a whisper.

“Bullshit,” Adam said, his body tensing as he prepared to push Katherine and Jeff out of his way so he could escape the duo.

“No man,” Jeff said, raising his hand, palm up directly in front of Adam.  “It’s true.  Check it out.”

Adam looked down at Jeff’s hand, and was surprised to see a small ball of fire suddenly form in his palm.  Shocked by the sight, Adam took a step back, and shot a confused glance towards the duo.

“What the hell is that,” Adam asked, so loud it was almost a shout.

“Keep it down,” Jeff hissed.  “Let’s not attract any unnecessary attention to  ourselves, all right?”

“Sorry,” Adam whispered back.  “But you kind of surprised me there.  Is that real?”

“Oh yeah,” Jeff replied.  “It’s real, and it’s my ability.  I can control heat and fire.  Katherine here has abilities too.”

“Come on,” Adam said, shooting a suspicious look towards the woman.

“Oh, it’s true,” Katherine responded.  “But mine aren’t as flashy as his.  I just have super-strength and invulnerable skin.”

“How did you get those,” Adam asked, still unsure about what he was witnessing.

“If you really want to know,” Jeff replied, “then we’d be happy to show you.  In fact, we can get you your own abilities too, if you want.”


“Seriously,” Katherine replied.  “I bet you’ll get something good too.  So, come on, are you in, or what?”

Adam paused for a moment, considering the options laid out before him, then agreed to follow Jeff and Katherine.  As he followed the duo down the street, Adam could feel his heart pounding with a mix of excitement and fear.

Stranger: Part Five

Written by Derrick Nadeau

Recap:  After awaking from a horrible nightmare in which a dying woman with a slit throat attacked him, Scott tried to fight his exhaustion and head to work.  When he arrived at work, Scott began to hear the disembodied voice of a man saying horrible things to him.  Scott rushed to the bathroom to regain his composure, but was shocked to see the face of a stranger looking back at him in the mirror.  Scott’s boss confronted him in the bathroom for being late, and wound up lying on the bathroom floor with a stab wound in his stomach.  Scott panicked, left work, and rushed home.  After seeing horrible visions of both the stranger, and the woman he had dreamed about, Scott called his girlfriend Melissa and made a desperate plea for her help.  Melissa came to Scott’s house as quickly as should could, and was then stabbed several times by Scott, who saw her as another phantom woman with a slit throat in his mind.  Scott panicked and attempted to run out his front door, but was met by several more naked women with their throats cut and bleeding.  The woman attacked Scott, causing him to lose unconsciousness.

Scott heard the muffled sounds of conversation off in the distance as he began to slowly regain consciousness.  Feeling groggy, Scott slowly opened his eyes and tried to focus his bleary vision, but could only see blurred shapes and a bright light.  As his vision and hearing gradually improved, Scott could make out the shapes of two men standing near him.  Scott surveyed his surroundings, and was surprised to realize that he was lying in what appeared to be a hospital bed.  Scott tried to rub his eyes, but found that he could not move his arms because they were strapped to the bed he was lying in.  Scott’s mind instantly filled with questions as he struggled against his restraints.  Frustrated, Scott attempted to speak to the two men conversing near his bed, but found that his mouth was not functioning yet.

“This is a mess,” one man said.  The man appeared to be older, perhaps in his fifties, with a strong build wearing a dark suit.

“It’s not,” the other man said.  The second man, younger and smaller in stature wearing a white lab coat over his jeans and t-shirt, appeared to be uncomfortable speaking to the man in the suit.  “It’s not a mess.  Well, it is, but it’s not a complete loss.”

“Not a complete loss,” the suited man shouted.  “How can you say that?  We lost one of our agents!  Not to mention the civilian that bled out on the bathroom floor of a factory!”

“I am aware of that,” the man in the lab coat shouted back, then paused to calm himself down.  “I know that people have died because of him.  I know that.  But, that doesn’t mean we need to scrap the whole program.”

“Oh yes it does,” the man in the suit stated callously.  “That is exactly what it means.  He killed the agent that was assigned to watch over him, and he killed an innocent civilian.  One death alone would be enough to prove to me that your program is a failure.”

“It’s not a failure,” the man in the lab coat exclaimed angrily.  “It was just a hiccup in the program.  Just an error that needs a little tweaking, that’s all.  I know exactly what the problem is.  I know exactly how to fix it.  I know exactly how to fix him.”

“You’ve said that before,” the man in the suit said.

“I know,” the man in the lab coat said.  “But I know what we did wrong.  Just, give me a chance to explain it.”

“Who does this guy think he is,” the stranger’s ghostly voice asked suddenly, sending a chill down Scott’s spine.  “Do you believe this shit?  This little punk thinks he can fix me?  He already tried that and obviously failed.”

“What,” Scott asked, his voice barely more than raspy whisper.

“Quiet,” the stranger barked.  “I’m trying to hear this.”

“Fine,” the suited man said.  “I’ll give you one chance to explain yourself doctor.  Make it good.”

“Okay,” the doctor in the lab coat said, wringing his hands nervously.  “Thank you.  So, basically, the idea was that we take this vicious serial killer here, and reprogram him mind using the memory implants that I invented to make him a better person.  A model citizen if you will.”

“Don’t talk to me like I am an idiot,” the man in the suit snapped.  “I am fully aware of the point of this program.  I’m the one who initiated it.”

“Right,” the doctor said nervously.  “Of course.  I was just trying to get some perspective.”

“Serial killer,” Scott whispered, appalled from the revelation.

“That’s right,” the stranger answered back.  “I really enjoyed it too.  Killing those bitches really turned me on.”

“Oh no,” Scott hissed.

“Anyway,” the doctor continued.  “So, you government types decided to try to use my brilliant research with memory implants and use it to reprogram criminals.  Which, by the way, I am still not happy  about.  That was not the intended use for them.”

“I am quickly losing my patience with you Doctor,” the man in the suit growled.  “Get to your point.”

“Right,” the doctor continued.  “Sorry.  My point is that you had me take this evil man who kills women for fun, and try to turn him into a good, upstanding, church going, god fearing, perfect American citizen.  My point is that you tried to turn this bastard into the complete opposite of his true nature.”

“I don’t understand this,” Scott whispered.

“Did they give me a lobotomy,” the stranger bellowed in Scott’s mind.  “I was never this fucking slow!”

“What  are you saying,” the man in the suit asked.
“It’s simple,” the doctor said with a sigh.  “You  wanted me to turn an evil man into something he could never be.  His natural tendencies for wickedness are so deeply ingrained in his brain that his mind realized that his new personality was completely wrong.  So, his mind rebelled and fought against the new personality you had me give him.  It’s like when a foreign object, like a virus, tries to enter your body.  Your immune system does all it can to fight that foreign object and eradicate it.  His mind fought back against my foreign programming and his true personality came back.  So, the programming failed.  But, I have a solution.”

“And what would that be,” the man in the suit asked, his tone skeptical.

“Let me reprogram him again,” the doctor answered.  “But this time, I won’t go to such extremes.  The answer is not to turn him into the model citizen, obviously.  Instead, we need to just turn him into just a boring, ordinary, working class stiff.  Just a regular, average guy.  Not too good, not too evil.  Do you see what I’m saying?”

The man in the suit did not answer, but instead turned to face Scott, studying him for a moment.  Scott struggled to move against his restraints, but found the effort futile.  In his mind, Scott could hear the stranger’s voice screaming obscenities at the man in the suit.  The man in the suit let out a long sigh before addressing the doctor once again.

“It will work,” the doctor said confidently.

“All right Doctor,” the man in the suit said.  “I will give you one more chance.  But that’s it.  If the program fails again, if even one more person dies at his hands, then it is over.  We will cut funding to your research and he will be disposed of.  Is that understood?”

“Yes,” the doctor replied enthusiastically.  “Yes, I completely understand.  I promise you, this will work.  You’ll see.  This will work.”

“No more promises Doctor,” the man in the suit said.  “Bring me results.”

Scott watched in terror as the man in the suit walked out of the room, casting one last distasteful glance in Scott’s direction.  As the man in the suit left, the doctor walked up beside Scott’s bed and smiled down at him.

“I’m so excited,” the doctor said.  “This research is going to win me a Nobel prize.  So, you had better not screw this up for me, get it?”

Scott, feeling his strength almost completely restored, began shaking his head furiously.

“Looks like you are awake now,” the doctor said, pulling a syringe out of his pocket and preparing it.  “Not to worry, this will take care of that.”

“No,” Scott shouted, his cry echoed by the stranger’s voice in his mind.

“Now, now,” the doctor said calmly, stabbing the syringe into Scott’s restrained arm.  “Don’t fight it.  It will all be over soon.  And, you won’t even remember any of this.”

“No,” the stranger shouted, his voice echoing through Scott’s head.  “Don’t let him do this!  Stop him!  Fight it damn it!  Fight it!”

Scott struggled in his restraints violently, but soon found that his strength began to wane once again.  With the sound of the stranger’s voice still screaming in his mind, Scott began to feel a calmness take over him again, as it had back at his apartment.  Soon the stranger’s voice began to fade away as if Scott were suddenly miles away from him.  Moments later, Scott slipped back into a deep unconsciousness.  The last sound Scott would ever hear was that of the stranger’s angry cries as they quickly faded away.

Stranger: Part Four

Written by Derrick Nadeau

Recap:  Scott awoke from a horrible nightmare about a woman with a slit throat dying in his arms in time to begin day.  Despite feeling exhausted, Scott went to work where he began hearing a strange, disembodied voice saying horrible things to him.  Scott ran to the bathroom to regain his composure, and was shocked to see a strangers face looking back at him in the mirror.  Moments later, Scott’s boss entered the bathroom and began to berate him for being late.  The stranger in the mirror threatened to dispose of Scott’s boss, as they argued, and Scott attempted to stop the stranger only to find that his boss had been stabbed in the stomach.  With the voice of the stranger shouting evil words in his ears, Scott grabbed the knife off of the bathroom floor, still covered in his bosses blood, and fled work.  Scott headed home, and after a few moments of mental torture from the stranger, called his girlfriend Melissa to help him.  After speaking with his girlfriend, Scott passed out on his bed with the laughter of the stranger ringing in his ears.

“Scott, are you here?”

Scott awoke to the sound of his girlfriend’s voice as she entered the front door of his apartment.  A wave of relief swept over Scott’s distraught mind as he rose from his bed and called out to his girlfriend.

“I’m in my room Melissa,” Scott called out.

“Are you ok,” Melissa called back, her footsteps echoing off the floor as she headed down the hallway to meet him.  “You scared me with that phone call.”

“I’m ok,” Scott called back, walking over to the bedroom door.  “No, that’s a lie.  I’m not ok.  I think I’m losing my mind.”

“What are you talking about,” Melissa said, her voice coming from the other side of Scott’s bedroom door.  “What is going on?”

“I don’t know how to explain it,” Scott replied, opening his bedroom door.  Once he opened the door, Scott was horrified to find that it was not his girlfriend that stood on the other side of the door, but another woman.  The woman stood naked before him, a look of anger and confusion on her face, with her throat cut wide open and pouring out blood.  Scott let out a terrified gasp and began to stumble backwards towards his bed.

“What’s wrong Scott,” the naked woman asked.  “Are you hurt?  Do you need me to take you to the hospital?”

Scott opened his mouth to respond, but could not find the words he needed.  Shaking his head furiously, Scott stumbled back further until he fell back onto his bed.

“Scott,” the bleeding woman said, cautiously approaching him, “you’re scaring me.  What’s wrong with you?”

“No,” Scott whispered at last, his throat feeling as dry as a desert.

“No what,” the woman said standing above Scott and reaching down towards him.  “No, you’re not hurt?  What is wrong with you?”

“No,” Scott again a little louder, pushing the woman’s hand away from him.

“Scott,” the naked woman said, her tone one of confusion.  “Honey?  You need to calm down.  You need to tell me what’s wrong.”

“No,” Scott repeated, this time louder and angrier as he scrambled to get up off of his bed.

“Scott,” the bleeding woman said, reaching out towards Scott again.  “Please stop this.  Come here and let me help you.”

“No,” Scott shouted angrily, pulling the bloody pocket knife out of his pocket.  “Leave me alone!”

“Scott,” the woman said, blood continuing to pour out of her throat.  “Honey, what are you doing?”

“No,” Scott screamed charging the woman and knocking her down to the floor.  “Leave me alone!”

Scott let out a guttural scream as he began to stab at the naked, bleeding woman repeatedly.  Scott felt hot tears begin to sting his eyes, and he pulled back from the naked woman to wipe the tears away.  Scott then opened his eyes and was surprised to see his hands covered in blood.  Shocked by his own actions, Scott looked past his hands to the woman underneath him.  Scott’s blood went cold when he saw that the woman lying on his floor was not the naked woman he had attacked, but was instead his girlfriend Melissa drenched in her own blood.  Scott choked back a bit of vomit as he fell backwards off of his girlfriend and onto the floor.  Finding it difficult to breathe, Scott reached over to his nearby dresser, and dragged himself to his feet.  Taking a moment to steady his weakened legs, Scott began to sob uncontrollably.  Scott looked over to his girlfriend dying on the floor near him and felt a sharp pain in his chest.

“Oh no,” Scott whispered, turning to face Melissa.  “No!  I’m so sorry baby.  You were-  You weren’t you.  You weren’t you.”

“Keep telling yourself that,” the voice of the stranger snarled in Scott’s ear.  “Maybe you’ll even believe it some day.”

“No,” Scott shouted, covering his ears with his blood stained hands.  “Why won’t you leave me alone?”

“You ain’t getting rid of me bitch,” the stranger’s voice shouted.  “They tried that already, but I’m still here!”

Scott began sobbing again as the laughter of the stranger tore into his mind, and ran out of the bedroom.  Scott continued running down the hallway to the front door, and swung the door open violently.  Scott screamed when he saw another naked woman with a slit throat standing in the doorway.

“Oh no,” Scott screamed, falling backwards onto the floor of the hallway.  “No!  No!  No!”

Scott continued screaming as the naked woman entered his house, followed by several more women of various appearances, all naked with slit throats.  The women surrounded Scott, grabbing his limbs and holding his limbs so he could not move.  Scott found himself too horrified and confused to struggle as one of the woman stood above him and reached down towards him.  Scott then felt a sharp pinch in his neck, followed by a feeling of calm.  As the calmness filled his mind, Scott felt himself slipping into darkness until finally slipping away into unconsciousness.

Stranger: Part Three

Written by Derrick Nadeau

Recap:  Scott awoke from a horrible nightmare about a woman dying feeling exhausted.  Despite his fatigue, Scott dragged himself out of bed and headed to work.  At work, Scott began to hear a strange disembodied voice whispering terrible things in his ear.  Scott ran into the bathroom, fearing he was hallucinating, and was confronted by a strange face looking back at him in the mirror.  Moments later, Scott’s boss confronted him n the bathroom and was subsequently stabbed and left bleeding on the bathroom floor as Scott ran to his car and sped off.

Scott ran into his apartment and hastily locked the door behind him.  Staring down at the blood on his hands and clothing, Scott tried to calm his mind to no avail.  Every time he closed his eyes, images of his boss bleeding on the bathroom floor  mixed with images of the woman from his dreams flooded his mind.  Tears of frustration filled Scott’s eyes as his brain struggled to make sense of his experiences.  Scott instinctively reached up to rub his eyes, and paused just before rubbing blood into them.  Scott swore to himself, then rushed down the hallway to the bathroom.  Once in the bathroom, Scott turned on the faucet and washed the blood from his hands.  Scott let out a hiss as the warm water stung the cuts on his hands.

“Too much blood,” Scott whispered as he scrubbed his hands until they were raw.  “It will never come off.  Too much blood.”

“Oh yeah,” the stranger’s voice replied.  “He was a bleeder all right.”

“No,” Scott shouted, continuing to scrub his hands clean.  “Get out of my head!  Leave me alone!”

“You are a real whiner,” the stranger snarled back.  “You know that?  A real fucking crybaby.”

“Shut up,” Scott shouted again.  Scott looked up to the mirror above the sink and saw the  stranger looking back at him again.  Rather than feeling shock or surprise, Scott felt only anger as he stared into the stranger’s cold eyes.

“Shut up,” the stranger repeated in a mocking tone.  “Why don’t you make me?  Go ahead, punch the mirror again, that works.”

Scott lifted his fist as the stranger’s laughter bounced off the walls of the bathroom, then quickly stopped himself.  Scott pulled his trembling hand back to the sink, then continued scrubbing it.

“Boy,” the stranger continued, “they really snipped your balls right off, didn’t they?  Just cut ’em right off and threw ’em away.”

“What,” Scott asked, pausing his hand washing and looking back up to the mirror.  “What does that mean?”

“You’ve been pussified,” the stranger scoffed.  “There isn’t even a hint of the man you used to be left in there, is there?”

“What are you talking about,” Scott snapped.

“Well, that’s not entirely true, is it?  There’s obviously at least a hint left there.  Maybe even more than that.  There would have to be.”

“A hint of what,” Scott cried out.  “What are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about you stupid,” the stranger snarled.  “I’m talking about the man you used to be!  I’m talking about the little pansy they let you turn them into!”

“Pansy?  I’m not a-  Who are you talking about?  Nobody turned me into anything.”

“You are starting to really give me a headache,” the stranger snapped.  “I’m getting real tired of playing this game.”

“I don’t understand any of this,” Scott shouted.  “What in the name of the Lord is going on?”

“In the name of,” the stranger repeated, then paused briefly before continuing.  “I don’t even know who you are any more!  Those pricks really did a number on you.”

“No,” Scott shouted, focusing on washing his bloodied hands again.  “I’m not listening to this any more!”

Scott focused on his hands, scrubbing furiously despite the stinging cuts.  After a few tense minutes, Scott paused again, realizing that the voice of the stranger had gone silent.  Scott looked up to the mirror, and was horrified by what he saw looking back at him.  The visage of the stranger had disappeared, leaving instead the face of a woman looking back at him.  The woman’s throat was sliced open, similar to the woman in Scott’s dream, but her appearance was completely different.

“How could you,” the woman cried out as blood poured from her throat.  “How could you do this to me?”

“No,” Scott shouted, stumbling backwards until his back hit the opposite wall of the bathroom.  “No, please!  Not this again!”

Scott ran out of the bathroom, tears flowing from his eyes, down the hallway to his bedroom.  Once he reached his bedroom, Scott slammed the door behind him, placed his head against the door, and closed his tear stung eyes.

“I am losing my mind,” Scott whispered to himself.  “I must be going insane.”

Scott took several deep breaths in another failed attempt to calm himself, then reached into his pocket and pulled out his cellphone.  Scott struggled to dial a number with his quivering fingers, and swore to himself again as he waited for an answer to his call.

“Hello,” a female voice on the other end of the call said.  Scott felt an instant bit of relief at the sound of his girlfriend’s voice, and he began to feel his nerves slowly calming.

“Hi Melissa.  It’s me, Scott.”

“Scott,” Melissa said. a tinge of concern in his voice.  “Are you okay?  Why are you calling me in the middle of the day?  Is something wrong?”

“No,” Scott replied.  “I am not okay.  Something is very wrong.  I need you sweetheart.”

“What is it,” Melissa asked, the concern in her voice intensifying.  “What’s wrong?  Are you hurt?”

“I can’t talk about it over the phone,” Scott replied.  “I need to see you baby.  I need your help.”

“Sure honey,” Melissa said.  “I can leave work early to see you.  Are you still at work?  Or are you at the hospital?”

“No,” Scott replied.  “I’m at home.  I left work and headed home.  Please come as soon as you can.  Please.”

“Your really worrying me here Scott,” Melissa said.  “But, I’ll be right over, just hang on.  I’ll be there in a few minutes baby.  I promise.”

“Thank you Melissa,” Scott whispered.

“Okay baby, just hang on.”

Scott hung up the phone and closed his eyes again, letting the tears flow down his face.  Scott took one long, deep breath, held it in for a few minutes, then slowly let it slip out of his lungs.  Scott wiped his tear-stained cheeks, then walked over to his bed and sat down.  Taking a few more deep breaths, Scott looked down at his trembling hands and clenched them into fists.  Scott focused his thoughts on his girlfriend and felt himself finally begin to calm down.  Scott let out one more deep breath, then lay back on his bed.

“I can’t wait until your little girly gets here,” the stranger’s voice whispered in Scott’s ear.  “Then we’ll have some real fun!”

The sickening sound of the stranger’s laughter was the last thing Scott heard before passing out on his bed.



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