Iotha of Lynken

This is set about 500 years Before Juxta, Magi

Iotha’s dad looked him in the eyes.  “I’ve taught you the blade and bow.  Everything your grandpa taught me.  Tomorrow at dawn, the trials.  Sleep.”

The man and boy could have been twins if not for one was grown, both skin dark as night, brown eyes, thin but muscular.

Yeah, Iotha would sleep.  The fire still burned in the center of their campsite.  The boy sat cross-legged and stared into the twisting and turning flames.  Thoughts strangely calm.  He curled up on the ground and arranged his blanket above him perfectly.  He dreamed of this day a thousand times.

In the end, he slept.  Dad shook him awake just before dawn.  They ate a feast of fresh apples and jerky.

“Do you need luck, boy?”  Dad asked.

“No, papa.”

Crowds were forming up in a field of short grass.  Iotha took his place in line with the other boys.  The spectator stands filled to the brim.  The king and queen sat at the topmost level.  The queen wore a purple dress.  The king’s ranger leathers were worn, but fit snug, like all the rangers running around herding boys into lines.  A jewel encrusted crown made of gold sat on the king’s head.  It looked heavy to Iotha.

Boys chose wooden swords from barrels.  Every boy in line gripped it in a tight fist.  Iotha looked his opponent in the eyes.  He was thin and wiry, with long blond hair and crisp blue eyes.

The horns sounded.  Iotha advanced with a bit of caution in his step.  He used a one-handed grip on the sword.

Iotha raised his left hand up and made squeezing motions with it.  The other boy looked up at the hand.  Wham!  Iotha threw his right fist wrapped in the sword hilt at the boy’s nose.

The boy fell and stayed down.  The men around Iotha cheered.  Presumably for him, but who knew?

The ranger sergeant called for the healer.  An aged man came running with a blaze of blue fire in a walnut-sized sapphire gem connected to a gnarled wood staff.  This new man with gray hair and a white cloak knelt to the downed boy and said some intricate chant.

“He lives,” the old man said.

“Did I win?”  Iotha asked.

Some ranger shoved a wooden chip in his hand no more than a half inch long with two lines carved in it.  Iotha had his answer.  He needed two more like this one, and they would call him ranger.  It went in his belt pouch and bet it was tied tight.

The adult rangers once again herded the boys into rows five across.  The smallest boys were at the front.  Iotha stood in the middle.  Once again, the horns bellowed.  Iotha pushed against the ground with everything he had.

Boys shoved him, and Iotha did a bit of shoving.

After a mile running, he crossed the line close enough to the front.  A second wooden chit was handed to him, and it too was put away.

The horse race lined up next.  Iotha climbed onto his mount and something seemed wrong.  He knew in his heart, a lazy horse.  Still they tried.  No chit was put into Iotha’s hand.

Dad howled from the stands.  “Finish it!”

Bows and quivers were passed out to every boy.  Over one hundred posts lined the field with a hanging wooden disc.

The glorious horns sounded.  Every boy let fly their arrow.  Every boy hit their mark.

Rangers had them back up ten paces.

A few boys missed, but on their honor, a gust of wind filled the field along with the horns.

They moved another ten paces.  Iotha hit the disc.  All that mattered to him.  It reached a point where less than half the boys were in line.  That was it.  Yet, they continued.  In the end, Iotha stood in a row of only five boys.  They all missed.  The distance proved too great.

A third piece of wood landed in Iotha’s hand.  He had three.  Practiced all his life, he was in.  A warm glow filled his insides and bled out into every extremity.

The king shouted loud.  “Say goodbye to your families.  Find your sergeants.”

Iotha embraced his father in a great hug.  Both squeezed each other tight.  No words were said.  No words needed to be said.  Only regret was Mom was in the ground instead of there, but according to The One True God she watched from above.

Iotha found his sergeant, a giant of a man called Floyd.  He had a deep brown complexion.  The first thing he showed Iotha was proper saluting, but definitely not the last thing Floyd would teach.  They rode with a troop of almost two hundred on horseback to a walled fort. A place called Raleg, founded over five hundred years ago.

Heck, Lynken was supposedly only around about the same age, even though people lived in these parts since the dawn of it all.  Since Iotha was now one of Lynken’s cadets, he desired to know a little history.

The most important thing quickly implanted in Iotha’s mind was the fact that Cadets couldn’t get booze of any kind.  None.  He cried himself to sleep the entire four years in Raleg.

Floyd lined up the group of cadets from Iotha’s trial.  An officer approached, and the cadets in perfect unison saluted.  The officer returned the salute but never said his name.

He spoke in a loud voice that carried.  “I’m going to teach you the Codex.  It’s a secret of the rangers that everyone must master.  Do what I do.”

Iotha had acquired a rusty, old, thick sword with no edge at all.  All the cadets had one similar.  The officer held his sword up high, then made a downward motion with it, while stepping forward.

None of the cadets moved.

“Do it!”  Floyd shouted.

The cadets moved.  The officer repeated the motion-step.  Over and over across a field.  Glory be, after lunch they did their left hand.  Iotha knew for sure, if they’d continued past nightfall, his arms would fall off.

A boy next to Iotha whispered to him.  “Years of this.  Years.”

“Dad never mentioned it.  Not one word of it.  My name is Iotha.”

“Mine neither, I’m Jose.”  He had a deeper tan on him than most of the other boys, and straight black hair.

Jose’s squad garrisoned in the same barracks as Iotha.  They had seen each other before, but never introduced themselves.  Potentially, Iotha’s first friend in the rangers.

Cadet life grew monotonous to say the least.  Chopping firewood.  Some days helping out in the fields.  Planting, weeding, and harvesting.  Skills every boy already had.  The Codex seemed the key to it all.  Special forms and motions for countering multiple opponents.  Making the enemy pay in blood and limbs for every ranger that falls.

Jose was a good friend, to a big degree because he had two older brothers in the rangers and every so often, Jose would have a flask of this or that to share.  They often spoke of women.  Jose acted like he was a great conqueror and could bed almost any unattached woman he chose.

Seasons turned as seasons turn.  Iotha was assigned to a full-time squad, with Jose and Floyd in the lead.  Both young men now carried a real blade at their side plus a bow and quiver.  They rode horses, and were well-versed in taking care of them.  Access to booze.  A silver piece a month in pay.  The good life.  How the king could afford the amounts of booze they drank was a puzzle, but maybe it was the chief output of Lynken.

The king assigned them to border patrol on the eastern edge of Lynken.  Across that border was Tercia, a land of ogres, peasants, and a necro mausoleum on every street corner.  Some questioned if the peasants who farmed were actually animated dead.

Bands of ogres bled sometimes into Lynken to maraud.  The patrol had a fifty mile or so of expanse they were responsible for.  They spread themselves maybe a little too thin sometimes, looking for trails.  Twenty-four in the squad in total, but patrolled in three-man troops.

A few hundred yards ahead, tracks in mud.  Iotha sounded it out.

“Be wary,” Floyd said.

Iotha and Jose nocked arrows.  Floyd hopped off his horse and drew his blade.  He stared deeply into the tracks for a few moments.  “At least thirty, but no more than fifty.  Two wagons.  Tracks heading into Lynken.  Iotha head north, gather the men.  Jose head south.”

Iotha kicked his horse into a solid gallop.  Within an hour, he and nine other men headed south towards where Floyd waited.

They arrived the same time Jose and the others arrived.  No sign of Floyd.  But a lot of blood on the ground, what the earthen ground of Lynken hadn’t sucked up, and a couple of limbs.  A leg and an arm.  Not human.  Ogre.

The other sergeant, Allen, pointed at the tracks.  “Headed back into Tercia.”  Allen rubbed his chin.  “Either they captured him, or they took his body to feed their necromancer dark arts.”

“We ride!”  Iotha shouted.  Twenty-three men howled.

They headed into Terica following the trail.  The terrain slowly changed and devolved.  Where in Lynken, small copses of trees were common, and various ground covers battled it out for territory.  In Tercia, it turned rockier and dryer.  At best, a short grass or weeds grew, but many times the ground was no better than barren gravel.

Iotha rode in the lead.  He saw them first, but the others saw too.  Iotha drew his blade in a quick flash, and the other rangers charged barely behind him.  The ogres were tall, bulky figures with thick arms and legs.  Their skin shone a deep tan, and hair grew in seemingly random, coarse, black patches.

The first ogre fell to Iotha’s blade across his throat.  Blood jetted at least three feet.  The second, his blade pierced through the eyeball and Iotha flipped the weapon upward through the top of the creature’s skull sending brains splattering.

In this time, half the ogres readied slings, and fist sized rocks started flying like messengers from god.  Iotha cut down a third ogre with a stab to its heart.  Truth is they were all males, but to a human they were an it.

Three fist sized projectiles hit Iotha in the same instant.  One to his throat, another on his chin, and the third just above his left eye.  Darkness engulfed him, and the ground knocked the breath out of him like a cruel stepbrother.

He rose above himself and watched the battle below.  The ogres fled.  A tall man, taller than a tree stood in the distance.  He wore bloodstained plate armor with a blade strapped to his back, and a second hung from a belt on his waist.  His arms and legs were thick.

An image flashed in Iotha’s mind of the three chits in his belt pouch.  Two cuts on it.  One of the chits disappeared, and Iotha jumped awake.

He rode in the back of a wagon, in between two other men.  One was Floyd, dead as nails.  The other had a torn undershirt wrapped around his head.

Jose drove the wagon.  He shouted.  “Iotha is awake!  He lives!”

Iotha let out a throaty roar of a laugh.  “I don’t die that easy!”

Jose leaned back and quietly whispered.  “We couldn’t even find a pulse on you, my friend.”

“I live and breathe.”

Iotha had a crazy urge to check on the chits in his pouch.  Two left, either a trick of his friends, or a trick of gods.  If they planned to bury him, they’d bury him with the chits, so not his squad.

Iotha hopped out of the wagon and back on his horse.  They made tracks to a nearby temple of The One True God in a small town.  The priest said prayers over Floyd.  The ranger squad gave the wagons and loot collected off the ogre party to the temple.

Men took turns digging the grave.  Dug it deep.

The town sported a small pub, and most everybody had a few drinks.  They quickly made Iotha tired and sleepy.  He limited himself and slept in a barn.

The next day he felt himself again.  Allen, the sergeant, tasked him with returning to Raleg and reporting on the fight.  Allen gave him a sealed letter to carry.

The trip to Raleg passed quickly as traveling alone was akin to traveling like the wind.  A lieutenant read the letter and went on a massive rant about planting seeds to start a new war.

“They crossed into Lynken, and they had our man,” Iotha whispered under his breath.

The lieutenant turned beet red.  “Pick up your squad’s pay, and you can take a gallon wineskin for the road.”

Iotha acquired both, but he made sure they filled the wineskin with a potent liquor and not wine.  He saved the whole thing until he made it back to his squad, and they grinned like idiots and passed it around.

Patrolling the border was a task to dull the mind and senses.  The same stretch of miles every day.  Iotha counted months as the seasons moved.  How Jose kept finding kegs seemed a mystery to all.

A rogue scout approached their main camp one day.  They knew him as Malik.  He bore a parchment for Allen.

He read it and cleared his throat.  “They need us more on the southern border.  For some reason we’ve seen giant spiders outside the Wastes.”

“Giant spiders, oh my!”  Iotha said.

“The small ones are six feet tall.”

“Oh.  My.”

They acquired wagons and covered a wider area when they hit the right spot on the border.  One could see a distinct line between Lynken and the Southern Waste.  The ground itself turned to nothing but sand along the edge.

They rode in pairs, Jose and Iotha together, camped under the stars right next to the Waste.  The spiders were not known to be nocturnal.  Their eight eyes needed light to hunt.

Weeks passed.  Up ahead, one of the spiders, a big one, stepped on Lynken soil, directly in front of them.  Jose and Iotha drew blades and charged.  The beast appeared hairy as hell and looked as if it carried offspring on its back belly.

It stood eight feet tall at least with pincers on the front of its face.  Each leg had three joints to it if you counted the shoulder joint where they attached to the upper body.  The plan?  Charge it, pierce it through the brain.  Done deal.

“Arrroooo!”  Iotha howled.

The spider had other ideas.  The damn hellspawn.  She leaned back on her hind legs and used her front four legs as spears to meet their charge, stabbing through both horses.

The rangers leaped off to the side and landed on their feet.  They advanced.  They mostly hacked away at those front four limbs, while the limbs tried to pierce them.

Jose cut clean through a leg on his side, and gross black ichor spurted out on his hand.  He screamed as if it burned.

Iotha closed in for the kill, but as his blade sliced a great hole in the creature’s skull, the spider’s leg punched a wound clean through Iotha on his upper right chest.  A blow one would expect to be mortal.

He fell backwards and lay there twitching.  He drifted above the scene.  Jose was below trying to stomp out as many baby spiders as he could.  Iotha’s life blood pooled on the ground.

A man stood in the distance wearing bloodstained plate armor.  He held a double-sided axe in his hands, and a sword across his back.  His hair and beard were blood red, but whether natural or bloodstained, Iotha didn’t know.

The two chits in Iotha’s pocket appeared in his vision.  One disappeared, and he drifted down to his body.

The sound of a shovel digging made him stir awake.  “Hoy!”  Iotha said.

Jose turned to look and turned white as a ghost.  “I’m digging your grave man, and you’re alive?  You could have stopped me sooner!”

Iotha chuckled a bit but he still had pain in his chest.  “I need a healer.”

Jose moved like lightning.  Iotha lay there staring up at the sky focusing on the fluffy clouds and breathing.  Yes, quite nice to breathe.

Jose returned later with a young man carrying a bent staff from some hardwood tree.  This new man, clearly a druid, wore a simple light green robe and sandals.  A rune marked wineskin was slung over one shoulder.  He examined the front and back of the wound on Iotha.  He spoke a low chant.

“You should be dead.  The flesh has sealed itself up well, but your ribs are still broken,” the druid said.  “I’ll address those.”

A second chant soon followed, and the druid groaned either from exhaustion or pleasure, Iotha never knew.  What Iotha did know is his breathing became easier and more effective.

The druid frowned.  “No alcohol for at least ten years.”

“What?”  Iotha asked.

Jose laughed bright and happy.

“None for you too,” the druid said.  “It’s all mine!”

Iotha growled like a starving wolf.

“Seriously,” the druid said, “The wineskin is druid’s wine, heavily diluted, you need it.”

“Clearly I need it, all that grave digging,” Jose said.

The druid took a drink and handed it to Iotha.  He drank too and a blessed taste of apples and honey.  They passed the skin around.

The druid stumbled home.  Jose hunted up a rabbit for their dinner and started a fire.

Iotha looked in his belt pouch, other than a few coins, only one trial chit remained.  “I’m retiring after this.  I feel my time is up.”

“Twice I’ve said prayers to the One True God over your corpse,” Jose said.  “I understand, my friend.”

A handful of acres was part of Iotha’s retirement, but he had to take it along the frontier with Tercia or the Southern Waste with the mean giant spiders.

He chose the southern frontier.  His neighbors helped him build a house with everything he needed.  He found a woman to marry who loved his scars and wanted at least three wagonfuls of children.  The boys among them Iotha trained as his father trained him.  The way of things in Lynken.  Men training their sons.

The sons joined the rangers everyone.  The daughters married.  Iotha grew to the ripe age of 53.  His wife perished from some plague.

News came of an invader from the south, threatening Lynken’s longest standing ally, Weslan, to the west.  A ranger rode into town looking for volunteers.  Iotha stepped forward.

The ranger sergeant said, “No man over 50.”

“On my honor, I’m 49,” Iotha said.


A thousand-man army of rangers rode like hell itself danced on their heels.

Weslan was a land of Magi, but the horde from the southern wastes was over ten thousand strong.  Hold the line while the Magi rained fire and lightning was the order of the day.

Men drew lots for which ones would be in the frontmost line, for every man wanted a place, and the line would be too thin.

Iotha considered himself lucky to draw that lot.  More damn giant spiders, but these had riders on top of them, and metal covered their legs.  The horde of enemies approached on foot, each carrying a sword.  Iotha cut down their ranks at least a half dozen times, while magi rained lightning all around and threw balls of fire.

A curved blade cut into Iotha’s gut in the end.

He drifted up above the battle.

The familiar man with blades and a bloodstained plate armor stood in the distance and waved, come hither.

The End


Squirrels seem quite harmless

Fred looked around for the first time and noticed he indeed existed in a cage.  Perhaps he’d noticed it before, perhaps he hadn’t.  Today it mattered more than yesterday.

He looked over at Ruth, the other caged squirrel.  “We’re trapped.”

“We had this talk yesterday, and every day before.  The lid is too heavy,” she said.

Fred stretched up to the top of the lid and pushed.  It budged but not all the way.  He clearly stood tall enough but lacked strength.

Push the lid up.  Hold it and wait.  Let it fall.  Repeat a million times.  The door opened and Fred lowered the lid and went back to chasing Ruth around, almost like they were lovers.

The tall creature, Fred didn’t know the species of, said, “How are my two favorite test subjects?”

Fred and Ruth had learned the creature’s language quickly enough, but why this creature would have two harmless squirrels in a cage was anybody’s guess.  And neither Fred nor Ruth could recall anything prior to being in the cage.

The squirrels seemed to communicate at a higher frequency than the tall creature, and neither squirrel had said anything directly to their captor.

Fred wanted out.  He would be out, if he had to lift that lid a billion times.

He didn’t stop, maybe it was a thousand or a billion, he didn’t count.  One day, the lid lifted high enough he could push it to an angle.  Freedom, blessed freedom.

He had seen the tall creature working some device with a screen and various input devices.  He wanted to try it, whether it was just a mathematical machine or a gateway to another dimension.

The device with the screen sat next to his cage.  His curiosity piqued.  Two apparent input devices were wired directly into the machine.  One had just a few buttons and the creature moved it around.  The other had like a hundred buttons.

Fred started to experiment.  The device seemed simple enough.  Various tiny pictures on the screen that loaded different…  He didn’t know what they were called, but each small image seemed to open a new bigger image that was different, with more small images in it.

He found something called Google.  That was the beginning of the end.  Footsteps in the hall.  He jumped back into the cage and replaced the lid.

The tall creature tapped the cage.  “Two more weeks, the study will be over.  I like you guys but the process failed, and euthanasia.”

Fred had never heard this term euthanasia, but it seemed very important.  Once the tall creature left, Fred was on Google moments later.  Euthanasia.  Death.  The end.  The tall creature was going to kill them.  He explained it all to Ruth.  She didn’t believe at first, but he convinced her.

An escape needed to be planned.

The windows were all locked down.  Ruth found a tiny mirror.  From where it came, they didn’t know.  She could reach her paw under the door and see down the hallway with it.  For hours they were left alone to research Google, and you know, lift heavy stuff, because one you start you can’t stop.

Finally, Fred stared down the hallway on the mirror while Ruth researched on Google.

She screeched.  “I found it!”

“The building plans?”

“Exactly.  You gotta see this.”

They traded places.

Fred’s eyes glazed over as his squirrel brain processed the map.  An emergency exit map, and a stark red line was drawn from where he was through the hallway, and out a door to the outside.

Ruth scaled a cabinet up to a big round silver button with a symbol on it.  She threw her entire weight into it.  A click sounded and the door opened as if by pure magic.

“There’s another button at the door to the outside,” Ruth said.

The human creature left half-empty water bottles everywhere, and Ruth sewed a strap to carry one of those on Fred’s back.  She also sewed a tiny backpack for herself to fill with food from their dispenser.

No more planning was required, the two handicapped buttons worked like magic charms, and they raced through woods mere moments later.  Two of the humans saw them on the way out and screamed, but it may have been due to the large amount of muscle on Fred’s frame.

The first squirrel they encountered fell ill almost instantly.  Fred and Ruth took turns nursing the poor thing back to health.  He called himself Jarack and seemed to be waking as if from a long coma.  He perceived the world with new eyes.

The next squirrel and the next, fell ill.  They didn’t realize it but they spread a gene-splicing virus.  They just knew they’d start talking to a new squirrel, and the squirrel would fall ill.

Soon they had a band of at least twenty squirrels.  Fred and Ruth didn’t know how to survive in the wild, but they learned and learned.  They scouted in the human areas of the world.  A younger human was walking down the street staring into a cell phone.

Fred saw first, this was what he needed, access to Google.  Fred led the charge and soon enough they overtook the young human and bit him until the phone fell.  Their pointy teeth proved sharp enough to draw blood, and the young male left a trail of blood behind him as he fled.  Frank carried the phone back into the woods.

Poor kid likely got a beating for saying squirrels stole his cell phone.  But the amount of blood involved, it’s possible he collapsed before he made it home.

The virus spread and spread, and soon hundreds of squirrels traveled in a pack.  They were especially on the lookout for humans carrying groceries from cars into houses.  None suspected a giant mass of angry squirrels to attack.  Except the kid who lost the cell phone, he suspected.  Assuming he survived and hadn’t bled out.

A lot of the squirrels got into lifting rocks and other squirrels to add mass.  So now it’s hundreds of angry, hulked out squirrels who have access to the internet.

Luckily the battery died on the phone as they looked up a recipe to make gunpowder.

It was time to step up their game.

Six of the squirrels heaved a giant rock at a window to a human house.  They raided the pantry for nuts and snacks, mostly raisins and applesauce, a little trail mix.  Plus, a glorious charger for the phone they possessed.

Exterior power outlets existed on almost every house.  So soon enough they had the mighty Google again.

The virus they carried spread like pure wildfire.

With Fred at the lead, they killed their first human for food.  A little old lady, but they needed protein what with all the lifting they were addicted to.  It took hundreds of bites to finish her off, but humans were the oppressor.

Fred oversaw the process of making their first long rifle.  They skipped muskets in the evolutionary chain of gunpowder.  The projectiles were too tiny to make it very far against wind resistance.  So, they made the device bigger and bigger.  Only the hulkiest squirrels could fire one, but the projectile traveled straight and true.

After months of engineering and painstaking work, they essentially realized they’d produced a 380 auto, only in single shot.

Full scale war against the oppressive humans raged on almost every continent on Earth.  But it wasn’t just about the oppression, of which there were a million units, but squirrels found human flesh quite tasty once they’d tried it.



I moved in with my husband when we married.  A painless experience except the spankings.

A gas grill sat out back on the porch.  The thing was so easy and convenient.  For a while, I cooked with it.  My dad, when I was a kid, used both gas and charcoal at different times, and I always knew which from the taste.

One day at the store, I bought a small charcoal grill, charcoal, wood chips, and lighter fluid.  My husband was unimpressed and I quote, “We’re a gas grill family.”

Piss on that.

I had never actually lit a charcoal fire, but I’d watched a hundred times when Dad did it.  I followed all the steps, and soon I had a pyramid of glowing coals.  I added Mesquite wood chips, and three six-ounce burgers followed.  Cheap USDA Select ground beef, but it was 73% lean and usually tasty.

I paid close attention to make sure nothing got blackened, besides you know a little black.  Flip a burger too often it’ll never cook.

My husband was truly impressed with the meat and let me dole the spanking instead for a change.

I did it again the next day with steaks.  I put the Mesquite chips on.  Somebody whistled, and I looked up.

A lady stood at the edge of our yard holding a bowl of something.  “I smelled your grill, I’m your next-door neighbor to the north.”

What did she want though?  Like why would smelling my grill mean interrupting my precious solace?

“I brought coleslaw,” she said.  “Surely you have enough meat we could share.  I’m Beth.”




So, we had dinner with Beth.  The coleslaw was tasty, and the bacteria in the human gut love cabbage and other forms of indigestible fibers.

Beth was maybe forty years old with a cotton dress on.  Blue eyes and light brown hair but not blonde with just a few hints of grey.  She Never Stopped Talking.

Technically, she was the first guest in our house since we married.  Maybe a good thing.

A couple of days I didn’t grill.  Work kept calling me in.  I was odd one out at the company, and I’d get called in if a shop was short a person.  Best job I could get.

Seemed to be grilling with charcoal was the only way I could curb my husband’s insatiable hunger for flesh.  I started bratwurst and had a dread feeling so I cooked a whole package of six.

Beth showed up with a man in tow, wearing khaki shorts and a red shirt.  They had a younger male maybe twelve wearing perfectly matching khaki shorts and red shirt.

“The adult male prototype is George,” Beth said.  “The younger prototype is Sam.”

That is not how she introduced them, I embellished that.

All three of them carried containers or something, and after the amazing coleslaw, curiosity piqued.

The boy, Sam, held up a pan of brownies cut in perfect squares.  “Caramel brownies.”

Clearly, these people were welcome at my house.

George held out a bowl.  “Potato salad.”

Beth smiled wider than ever.  “Fruit salad.”

“Welcome,” I said.  “Hubby is chopping up onions and heating just a bit of chili if anybody wants chili dogs.”

Before any trolls can interrupt, yes, chili brats are an interesting concept, but if you haven’t tried it, shut your trap.

All too much stimuli for me in the end.  I found myself hiding under a weighted blanket in the dark.  Hubby brought me a midnight snack of nachos with cheese and jalapeno wheels.

He let me have the bed to myself and slept on the couch.  I did drift off in the end before it got too late.  He was savage in the morning but I needed it as much as him.  We synced up perfectly with the events at eight times a week, any less and a dire melancholy set in.

Soon it was time to grill again.  Two slabs of ribs.  I think I used more mesquite than charcoal.  Not only did Beth’s clan show up, but another couple who claimed to be my neighbors from south of my house.

The newcomers brought loaves of French bread with butter and garlic, and all told we had six side dishes to go with the ribs.  Nobody left hungry.

I retired early to my blanket fort.  Too much.  My husband made sure I wasn’t hungry, providing fruit flavored candies of every variety.  One night under the blanket wasn’t enough and I hid partway into the next day.  Lucky work didn’t call.

Not so much hiding, but I needed the dark and quiet for long periods to recharge my battery after so much chitter chatter from everybody.  And their seeming expectations for me to reply.

My husband admitted that the first time I grilled, he called Beth, and secretly invited her over.  The rest of the people were not his doing, and he insisted it was my grilling bringing them over.

I wasn’t giving up the charcoal, but I did acquire a bigger grill with more room for big helpings.  The crowds always drained me, but the time off from certain events, led to better events.

The End


Big Snow

Big snow.  They said it’d be the snowstorm of a generation or a century or a new all-time record.  The fridge at home seemed more dark, bottomless, empty pit than fridge, and the little demon vultures would devour me if they weren’t fed.  Little did the demon vulture children know I got a recipe for them too if things go dark.  Had to get the milk and bread.

Why my husband was unable to go to the store was anybody’s guess.  If he did go, he brought home every kind of doughnut they made and five kinds of fruit flavored candies.  No protein.

Big snow.  I raced down the freeway in heavy traffic.  No time to waste, never any time to waste.  Barreling along in the left most lane at, at least a hundred and ten miles per hour.  Not kilometers.  On this little crap stretch of highway that connected where I lived in Ohio to the nice grocery store at the other side of town.  Must get the grocery store rewards.  Must get the good, grass fed milk.

A line of cars in the middle lane blocked me in the far-left lane.  I had to get over.  Less than a mile before my exit.  I dropped my automatic into second gear, flipped off the air conditioned defrost, and floored it.  Engine whined like it would give up the ghost, but it never has before.

The car pushed forward, but no breaks in the line of cars.  I turned on my turn signal and tried to squeeze in.  The car behind me closed the distance until the two cars on that side were bumper to bumper.  I tapped the brake to sneak in behind that lady in the red minivan.

She looked me dead in the eyes and Slowed Down.

We were side by side.  I had a choice to speed up, slow more, or try to ram her off the road.  I punched the gas.  So did the smiling woman in the red minivan.  Doom.

No matter what I did, she wouldn’t let me get over.  She kept making eye contact and laughing.  The exit I needed floated past.  Then the minivan sped up enough I could slide closer to an exit lane.

I have a dash cam, and I took a picture of her license plate.  I had friends in high places who could quietly get me info.  Not that I was a violent person, but every so often violence has been a problem-solver in my life.

I took the next off ramp.  Construction for miles and miles.  One lane in parts navigated by an automated traffic light at each end of the stretch.

Where you would just sit and wait while a stream of cars rolled past from the other direction, then you had this tiny window of time when drivers in front of you couldn’t find the gas pedal.  Nearly an hour later, I walked into the best grocery store.  The place was a madhouse with people blocking entire lanes staring at boxes of mac and cheese like they all different.

Big snow.  So I got three giant five-pound bins of trail mix.  The kids loved it, and nutritionally it wasn’t a complete protein, but I needed happy kids.  And I didn’t need to cook it.

Two loaves of bread and three half-gallons of grass fed milk.  All the essentials plus black licorice of every type they had.  I needed it.

I drove home in the left-hand lane, and the speedometer hovered around one hundred miles per hour.  That exact same red minivan pulled up beside me.  Same lady, same stare, same cackling laughter.  She obviously had the intent to block me in again.

Just chilling right there next to me matching my speed.  What did I ever do to the blonde lady in a parka?

I stood on the brakes and got behind her.  I pushed the little button on my dash cam to take stills, even though it’d been pushed earlier.

I made it home, and hubby and the kids were happy for the large supplies of trail mix.  I emailed the picture of my new nemesis to my cousin, the county clerk.  She replied back with an address and name.  I grabbed a baseball bat and headed out.  None of my kids played baseball, I just had the bat.  Not sure where it came from.  Maybe a used sporting goods store or someplace.  Zombie apocalypse preparedness.

I pulled up at her house and honked my horn, until my nemesis stepped out.

I climbed out of my vehicle with the bat in hand.  “You!”

“Yes, me,” she replied.  “Maybe next time when somebody tries to pass you, you’ll let them.”

“Pass me!  You were on my right.”

She seemed to notice the bat for the first time.  “Yes, because you were putzing along in the left lane.”

Putzing!  Putzing!  Time for the bat.  I rushed her.

She pulled a low caliber pistol out and winged me on the right thigh.  Bullets hurt.  Even small ones.  I went down.

She phoned authorities.  I ended up temporarily in a wheelchair in jail.  Third time in county lockup for me.

I was going through the food lines, and some woman I swear wearing that same parka, cut me off.  I almost jumped her.  Almost.  Likely would have hurt me more, with the leg.  Leg hurt bad when I wasn’t jumping people.

We never did get that Big Snow they promised.