The Becoming – Part 9

Part 1, Part 8, I Bigfoot – Part 10

Part 9

As Naomi and I walked away from the break room, it felt as if nothing could hurt us now. That feeling was short lived as we started to see the other creatures of the facility. they clearly didn’t approve of us being together. They scowled at us.

“Do you want to talk here?” Naomi said, nervously eying the creatures as we passed.

“No,” I said, “there’s no privacy here. We should go somewhere that we won’t be overheard.”

“Where?” she asked.

“The Playground,” I was not sure why we weren’t seeing Havoc’s soldiers. In fact, the very lack of opposition was highly concerning. We should have been overrun with them, considering their pursuit of me earlier.

“But, to get to The Playground, we have to go through that main hall,” Naomi protested, “we can’t get through there without being seen.

I smiled at her, “just leave that to me.”

Once we made it to the metal hall, I picked up Naomi, held my breath, and quietly slipped through, between the workers, to the glass door and down the stairs. When we were on the foot path, I set Naomi down.

She said, “That was a neat trick.”

“Look, you see that cat guy?” I pointed as nonchalantly as I could.

“Yeah,” she said, averting her stare.

“I’m pretty sure I went to school with that guy. He was on the bus with us. I don’t remember him being in the truck with us when we left the bus, but I’m pretty sure I remember when he wasn’t a cat,” I said excitedly, “and the bird chick!”

Naomi gasped, “I do remember her.”

We continued walking down the path, “look, they are fundamentally changing human beings here. I think they’re doing it in different ways, but they changed our very DNA and they mean for us to forget ourselves and each other.”

“I don’t want to forget you, Reid,” Naomi said.

Before I could respond, there was another voice, “I need both of you to come with me immediately!” Apparently, we’d been followed. The creature before us had the body of a woman and the head of a rhinoceros. She held some kind of weapon. We hesitated and the creature said, “You have to trust me.” It’s mouth didn’t move. Not really knowing what else to do, we followed the rhino creature. We made it back up the stairs and the creature peeked through the door. “The coast is clear.”

We walked in and the rhino mask came off. It was Shelby, “you really can’t go down there right now. She is in the classroom. If you had taken another few steps, you would have been seen and then we’d all be in trouble. You don’t want to be anywhere near whatever She is up to.”

Like I’m not already in trouble, “I said sarcastically.

“Yes,” Shelby said, “but you’re only in trouble with Havoc right now. Look, there are a lot of us who are rooting for the two of you. I hate the fact that I’ve played any part in your discomfort, but I was confident that you would find each other again. She is the one you want to be avoiding right now.”

“But, we have catching up to do. Where can we go to just be us for a while?” I protested.

Shelby’s eyes sparkled, “leave that to me. As someone we all know is so wont to say, we all have our own special talents.” She took a card out of her pocket and slid it into a slot on the wall, “we’re going to make a little change in the time continuum, and I’m going to get you a new key to your quarters. Nobody will even know you are gone.”

“Oh,” I said sheepishly, “I kind of broke the door on our quarters.”

“I know,” Shelby said, “I’ve already had it fixed.”

On our walk back to our quarters, Naomi and I didn’t bump into any other creatures. The whole facility seemed empty. In fact, the only beings that I could tune into were in The Playground and the classroom, and even there the signatures were so erratic that I couldn’t really even tell what or who was in there. I was highly curious about whatever was going on in the classroom, based on my perception and on Shelby’s warnings. But, I figured that would all come out in due time. Once in our quarters, we left the lights off so no one could even see any signs under the door. I embraced Naomi and would not let go.

“Do I look different?” Naomi asked me.

“You do,” I confirmed, “but you’re still beautiful to me.”

“You look very different,” she said, “but I still knew it was you.”

“As I was saying earlier,” I said to her, “they are trying to fundamentally alter us. I’m not really happy about that, and I’ve never wanted to be a Bigfoot, but that doesn’t really matter all that much. They also wanted me to forget you, and I will not forget you. That’s where I put my foot down. I love you and I will always love you, Naomi.”

She sniffled and answered, “when we were interrupted earlier, I was trying to tell you that I don’t want to forget you. They nearly succeeded with me, and it was awful. I won’t let them get anywhere close to that again. No matter what else happens, I want us to be together for it. I will always love you, Reid.”

After notes: I know we got a little mushy there at the end. I hope I didn’t completely lose you guys. If you have read this straight through, from Part 1, all ~13,000-words, then that is the dream I had one night. I tweaked a couple of orders of events to fix the congruity, changed a few names, and I added Reid’s meeting with the other Sasquatch. There was just so much material there that 1- I had to record it and 2- it’s rife for continuation. There are so many loose ends! What happened to Mike, the obnoxious double agent from the beginning? What happened to Claire? What kind of powerful being was in the classroom? how are Reid and Naomi going to get out of this thing? Will they ever be normal again? I felt like I had to add in a meeting between Reid and the Skunk Yeti one way or another, because if there were two Sasquatch, they’d certainly need to reconcile their Sasquatch powers and who is to say that they are the only two of their kind, anyway? There are other images and things that have come up in my sleep in the same universe that should integrate into further submissions, but this really does it for the actual dream. I hope you’ve found it to be entertaining, and I hope you’ll be looking forward to the next chapter!

The Becoming – Part 8

Part 1, Part 7, Part 9

Part 8

As I made my way from the lab to the break room that Claire told me about, my breath did accelerate, not because of physical exertion, but in anticipation of seeing my wife again. I have to admit, I was apprehensive. Claire told me what I had already expected – that she may not know me, and that she is physically different. Heck, she might not be able to accept me because of my new physical form. There were so many uncertainties. But, in our natural forms we had been through so much together already. Surely everything would be fine. Right? Well, it’s like I told Claire, if there was any chance, I had to try. I was at a full run and came to a skidding stop again. What was that? A whisper? It wasn’t an audible sound, but it was a call of some kind. There was a door to my left, and I braced to tear it off its hinges. But, I stopped and tried the knob first. It was not locked and the door gently opened. It was dark inside. I felt for the light switch and flipped it several times, but the lights did not come on.

Please come in,” a voice whispered in my head, “and do please quietly close the door behind you.”

“Skunk Yeti?” I asked out loud, “Is that you?”

Sssshhhhhhhhh!!!” the whisper said, “not out loud. My people call me Jovious. I don’t concern myself with what men call me.

“Were you once human?” I thought toward Jovious.

I do not remember, and I have been here longer than the others. Some of us came from the wild and others of us were grown here, somewhat like you.”

“What others?”

And then, the room seemed to light up with a blue glow. In the room were multiple Sasquatches of various sizes, types, and colors. There was Jovious, the Skunk Yeti, and at least twenty more in the small room.

There are many more of us, and most of us have been here since before Havoc,” he explained, “Havoc doesn’t know about all of us. We let him interact with six of us. He got far more than he bargained for with you.

“I hope so,” I said.

You are the only one of us who has been able to speak the tongue of men. And, you remember your past, to a degree. You had a very strong mind – for a human.

“Gee, thanks, I think.”

We are with you. When you disguise, we will still see you, and you us. You are the strongest one of us here, but if you should betray us, we together will punish you.”

“Why are you telling me this?” I asked.

Because,” he explained, “we can’t keep our secrets from you. We want you working with us, and not with Havoc.

I frowned at them, “what if I don’t want to work with either you or him?”

Let me put it another way,” hissed the little Yeti’s mind, “you have a choice; you can either submit to Havoc’s leadership, or you can help lead us. Your vision is clear, and we need that.”

“Perhaps,” I mused, “but that’s not my most pressing concern. I have to go to my wife.”

Ah, of course,” Jovious projected, “and, so you should. Just do understand that there is more that goes on here that Havoc does not know about than what he does.”

“Understood,” I said.

Also, don’t worry about Claire. We’ll take care of her.

“I’m not worried about her,” I said as I headed toward the door.

We shall meet again soon!

The door clicked shut behind me and I continued on toward the break room. I did kind of wonder what he had meant by they would ‘take care’ of Claire. I just wasn’t terribly concerned with whatever became of her, to be perfectly frank. I was going to have to proceed with caution as far as the other Sasquatch were concerned. Here, I was now one of them, and yet I still didn’t know anything about them, and I certainly didn’t trust them. Not yet, anyway. It almost sounded like the only reason they revealed to me at all was because they couldn’t keep their secrets from me any longer. That’s not a very good basis for trust.

All of these thoughts left my mind as soon as I saw the break room. My heart skipped. I scanned around for opposition, but I saw none. I cautiously entered the room, ducking through the doorway. Four people sat at the table. They started up as I came in, until I gave them a halt signal with my hand. They slowly and nervously lowered back to the table and continued with the game they were playing, watching me with sideways glances. They were three men and a woman, all with slicked, black hair and glassy, black eyes. They wore fitted, silver fabric uniforms. The room was fairly small, with the one table, a kitchenette, and a small couch facing a television. There on the couch was a familiar figure.

Naomi’s eyes and hair had changed from the brown that I knew so well to black, and she wore the same uniform as the other Electros. She sat on the couch with her feet pulled up beside her, as she had done so many times in our own home, long before all of this mess. I felt the tears welling up. She didn’t acknowledge me when I sat on the couch next to her, but kept her glassy black eyes pointed at the television. Her irises were so impossibly black that I couldn’t differentiate them from her pupils. Her hair was swept up on top of her head with some kind of wet-look product.

“Hi,” I whispered to her.

“Hi,” she smiled but didn’t remove her gaze from the television.

“Do you remember me?” I asked, “do you know me?”

She breathed deeply and her smile broadened, “I don’t know. Maybe.”

I took her hand in mine and brushed my fingers across her cheek, “It’s me, Reid. Do you remember marrying me?”

“Yes,” she said as though she were waking from a deep sleep, “I think so. But, I almost forgot. I think I actually did forget for a little while.”

“Yeah,” I said, “they tried to make us forget.”

“If it was so easy for them to make us forget,” she mused dreamily, rubbing my hand with hers, “it makes me wonder if anything we had was ever even real.”

“Oh, don’t say that,” I said, not being able to hold the tears back at that point, “what we had was very real, and it can be again.”

She finally made eye contact with me and said, “maybe so.”

I glanced over at Naomi’s companions, who seemed to be more and more uneasy with my presence and my conversation with my wife. “Hey,” I said to her, “you want to go for a walk with me where we can talk and have some privacy?”

“But, I never leave this wing,” she protested, “and, I certainly never leave the other Electros.”

I raised my eyebrows and nodded at her.

“Oh,” the realization washed over her face, “yes, let’s go.”

I helped her to her feet from the couch, and with fingers interlocked, we walked out of the break room together.

The Becoming – Part 7

Part 1, Part 6, Part 8

Part 7

I think that last treatment must have been their last ditch effort to complete my transformation and make me docile. As I thought about it, I don’t believe they intended to do that all at once, but it was a contingency plan if they couldn’t control me. Surely they had come up with a Plan B, as they noticed that I’d disappear into the catacombs under Deep Hawk for days at a time. I had to have been radically transforming long before it was pointed out to me, but the final bits of the transformation were happening quickly. That is to say that the physical transformation was accelerating but my self awareness and memory were reverting back to what they had been before. I suddenly realized that I could smell things that I had never been able to before. I could also hear the minds around me. There were hundreds and hundreds of lost minds, with a few clear ones peppered in.* The lost minds were those that had gone through their own ‘training’, and the clear ones were mostly part of the hierarchy of Deep Hawk. How did I know that? I could hear it directly from them as I made my way through the maze of the facility, looking for clues.

I racked my brain for what little Sasquatch lore I had picked up on TV specials and the internet to see if I could guess at what my new abilities might include. I had never really believed in such cryptids before. I found the mythology entertaining and didn’t discount that there may be undiscovered species, but didn’t honestly believe that there was any non-human, man-like creature in the woods. I had always imagined that were there such a thing, it would be a simple, dumb beast. I did remember however, that some of the Native Americans counted these creatures as another race of man, highly intelligent and even psychic. That belief had seemed absolutely corny. But now, as I could feel the other minds around me, and hear their thoughts, I gave it new consideration. Maybe I could find my wife with my brain…

I came to an abrupt halt on the vinyl floored hall, with no one else around. I clamped my eyes closed and did my best to reach out with my mind. My ears began to ring softly and the hum from the lights faded. I could hear my heart beat. In my mind’s eye, creatures lit up all around the facility like paper lanterns. I searched all that I could find and could not identify Naomi among them. It could be that she was so far gone that her mind had lost enough familiarity that I couldn’t pick her out. But, I was sure I could find someone who knew where to find her.

So, I stretched out the fingers in my mind, looking for familiarity. I explored the people I encountered this way. Most of them were unaware of my mental probing, although a few seemed to react to it mildly. Then, I found a brain that had Naomi’s face in it. This person has seen my wife. I must find… …her. Yes, this was a woman. And… we have met before. In fact, she was there one of the last times I saw Naomi.

My faded memories flashed in my head, and I remembered a dark room with bar stools and miniature men, and Naomi holding a small box, and another woman with her. Claire? I began running again, following my mind through the halls towards this woman’s imprint. As I ran along, I began to come to terms with the fact that I was now different, and that my wife likely was too. Would she remember me? Would she still love me?

That thought was cut short as I became aware of ten – no, a dozen men coming from an adjoining corridor. they were all wearing helmets and carrying rifles. I skittered to a halt and looked around. I didn’t want to have to deal with this right now. I could have easily rushed past the lot of them, but that would have only drawn more to my position. I needed to lose them. I looked in vain for a place to hide. There was nothing – not even a door I could tear open. The first one came around the corner, and I froze instinctively. He was followed immediately by three others. He had his rifle pointed at me and his companions swept to his side. He stopped with his rifle trained on me, but something wasn’t right. I held my breath. He dropped his rifle to low-ready and grabbed the radio from his chest, “We’re all clear in here.”

“No, you are not,” the radio sounded off. It sounded like Havoc on the other side, “He could be right in front of you and you might not know it. You have to look very hard and try to block out the mind games. There’s not a whole lot of directions he could have gone.”

They couldn’t see me? I suddenly remembered the Skunk Yeti and his trick of transforming into General Havoc’s doppelganger and then melting into the wall. Was I doing the same thing? So was that all done with mental projection? Whatever I was doing, I needed to keep it up for just a couple minutes longer. My heart pounded in my ears.

“I’m telling you sir,” the man called back into the radio, “There’s nothing in this direction. Maybe check back with one of the other teams?”

“Please just look a little more thoroughly,” said Havoc over the radio.

The man in the helmet sighed and said to his men, “You heard the boss. Let’s split up here. You six double back and make sure we didn’t miss anything that direction. You five come with me and let’s go down this way.”

I wondered how long I’d been standing there, perfectly still, not even breathing. As he and his other five passed me to continue down the hall, one of them stopped and put his face very close to my body as though he thought he could almost see something there. He slowly poked in front of him with the muzzle of his rifle. I gently and silently lifted my leg out of the swing of his muzzle. There I stood, holding my breath, on one leg in the hall, with this soldier who thought he could almost see me.

Then, his leader turned around and addressed him, “What is it? Did you see something.”

He hesitated for a moment before standing up straight again, “No, it’s nothing.”

“You sure?”

“Positive,” he affirmed, “just my mind playing tricks on me.”

I had to silently step out of the way of one of them so he wouldn’t walk into me. Then I realized that I could step silently. When I was running before, I was coming down on my heels which produced a thud that shook the whole floor. Since then, I had noticed that it was far quieter if I stayed up on my toes and the balls of my feet, but that produced a ‘pat pat’ sound. Prior to that, I had not noticed that I was barefoot. There was a special point on my foot now that was behind the ball, that I could put down first, that had not existed on my feet before. It was like an extra flex point in the foot, and when I stepped there, I was absolutely silent. When the men had left the room, I heaved a great sigh of relief and continued to run, this time on that mid-foot flex that I had discovered.

Finally, I made it to the door of a lab. It had a curved, aluminum pull handle on the door, and there was a glass window with security wire criss-crossed in it. I looked inside and saw Claire wearing a lab coat, talking on a phone handset at the far end of the room. Of course, the door was locked. When the handle tore from the door in my hand, she turned around and her eyes got huge. She pressed a button on the phone and hung up the handset, and continued talking, apparently with the phone on speaker. I couldn’t hear what was being said yet, but I saw her lips fomulate, “He’s here now.” I punched out the glass and grasped the door by the window frame. The door bent down away from the frame at the upper corner before the lock bolt and top hinge finally gave up and the door came from its frame.

I heard Havoc’s voice over the speaker phone say, “…was a complete mistake. He’s simply too powerful and we can’t control him.”

Claire screamed as I cleared the distance of the room in a single leap and tore the phone from the wall, smashing it to bits on the opposite wall, right beside the empty door frame. “Hush!” I commanded her. She stopped screaming but cowered and whimpered as though she expected me to hit her. “What is wrong?” I demanded of her.

“Pl-please don’t hurt me. I’m sor-sorry about your wife,” she stammered, “they to-told me that you wouldn’t remember. They said you wouldn’t even be able to speak.”

“What happened to my wife? Is there a reason I should want to hurt you?” I asked her.

“Nothing!” she cried, “just the treatments. She’s perfectly fine though.”

I became aware of another group of soldiers closing in on the lab.

“Tell me where I can find Naomi,” I demanded.

“I c-can’t!” she pleaded.

Now!” I growled.

As the first rifle muzzle cleared the empty doorway, I quickly drew her in close to me, covered her nose and mouth with my other hand, and held my breath. Five men in helmets came into the lab, carefully stepping over toppled tables and glass shards on their way in. The man in lead queued up his radio, “well, he was certainly here. We have signs of a struggle and he apparently took her with him.”

She struggled in vain against my hold. I knew she wouldn’t be able to hold her breath as long as me, but I couldn’t have her crying out; it would give me away. She squirmed but my illusion held.

I heard Havoc’s voice over the radio, “well, they must be close. When you locate them, take down both of them. I want to find out exactly how much she’s divulged to him.”

“Yes sir,” the men exited what was left of the lab to continue their search.

“I’m going to let go of your mouth,” I whispered to Claire, “and when I do, I want you to be silent. If you bring them back, you won’t have the opportunity to answer any of Havoc’s questions. Do you understand?”

Claire squeaked and nodded her head frantically, her perfectly round, tearing eyes peeking out above my hairy hand. I very slowly released her. She exhaled and gasped for air. “You can trust me, Reid,” she said.

“What?” I asked.

“I’m screwed one way or another. They don’t trust me and I was in trouble before you ever got this far. You can trust me,” she whispered as she caught her breath.

“Where can I find my wife?” I asked quietly.

She hesitated again, “do you understand that she’s different now?”

“So am I,” I pointed.

“She may not know you,” she argued.

“I have to try,” I said resolutely.

She sighed in resignation, “all right*. There is a break room on the next level about five doors down. The Electros spend most of their time hanging around there when they aren’t on duty or in training.”

I cocked my head at her, “‘Electros‘? So, my wife is now an Electro?”

“Well, since she’s female, she’s called an Electra, but yes.”

“Is that human?” I asked.

She fiddled with the buttons on her lab coat, “More or less.”

I shook my head and sighed. Then, I made eye contact with her and purred, “thank you.” And then, I took off again.

*Edited on the advice of my pro bono proofreader. ;)

The Becoming – Part 6

Part 1, Part 5, Part 7

Part 6

So, as I focused on what I was missing, I felt my mind getting stronger. Now, I could think more clearly than I could remember. I think, therefore I am. It was time to confront the General. As I made my way through the halls I felt the anger and indignation swell inside me. How dare they do this to us! I came out from the dark catacombs under Deep Hawk into the residential sections. I made my way through those halls, passing other individuals periodically. I was moving fast and they seemed startled by my rush as I passed.

It was obvious that they were trying to change me. What were they changing me into? I didn’t really know. I did know that when they introduced ‘recruits’ (kidnapees) they introduced them to their assigned new life in a particular way. What seemed like a lifetime ago, I remember them taking Naomi to the lab where she would be working. I saw them taking other people to expose them to their new futures. What did they show me? Havoc made a drink and candy for me. He had basically dismissed that as a party trick though. And, there was that creature that appeared in front of us. Of all the creatures I had seen, that one had been unique with his white hair and ape-like form. Was that it? Were they trying to change me into a creature like that? The tape on the butt feeling – every time they did that to me, I felt like I lost a little piece of myself. That had to be the treatment they were administering to attempt the transformation. Fortunately for me, they had underestimated my strength and resilience. I still knew who I was.

Suddenly, I stopped. Wait. What is this? I know this place. I turned to my right and the door looked important for some reason. That was our room. These are the quarters we were assigned when we got here. I put my hand on the knob and the door was locked. I patted at my pockets and found that I was missing my room key. Frustrated, I sighed deeply. I placed my right hand on the door knob and braced against the frame with my left. I don’t know what I expected to accomplish, but I took a deep breath and pulled until I felt movement. There was a creak and snap from within the latch mechanism and the door came open. When I looked inside, the room looked like it had not been occupied in a long time. None of Naomi’s or my personal belongings were in the room and a layer of dust was on all of the flat surfaces. I turned from the room and slammed the door. It bounced back open against the door frame as I sprinted away.

I knew the way to the main hall – the metal hall with the evil furnace. I had a feeling that’s where I would find the General. No, it was more than that. I could feel his very presence there. In fact, I could feel many presences. It was odd, it wasn’t exactly a new sensation, but it had come on gradually enough that I hadn’t really noticed before. Couple that with the fact that my brain had been in some kind of a stasis that I was now waking from, and of course I hadn’t previously noticed. There was a breeze in my hair that swept away the tears of anger. I suddenly realized that I had never run this fast before, and yet I was not short of breath. I didn’t waste too much time on this thought as I came into the metal hall. All of the creatures near me went silent as they turned their wide eyes toward me. There at the other end of the hall, with his back turned toward me was the General.

“Havoc!” I roared at him.

He turned towards me, but before either of us could say anything else, I felt that disturbingly familiar touch again, that I had pretty well determined was the transformative treatment. Someone had again smacked my backside, and the tape feeling gave way to the dropped gut feeling. This time it was far more intense than it had ever been before. It wrenched at my insides and made my ears ring. I went down from the dizzy nausea. I laid on my back on the cold floor in convulsions for a moment, breathing heavily. General Havoc took one of my hands and one of the main hall workers took the other hand. Shelby pushed on one shoulder as they hoisted me to my feet. Someone else was at my other shoulder. Once I was back on my feet I looked around to gauge my situation. Had it been Shelby to do that thing to me this time? Surely not, but who else? I looked into her eyes inquisitively and they told me that it had indeed been her. I snorted as I looked away from her apologetic gaze. General Havoc looked startled to see me, but was playing it as cool as he could.

“What can we do for you, my friend?” he cooed.

“We are not friends,” I growled, “are you trying to turn me into one of those things? Like appeared that night when we were talking in the entry room?”

Havoc looked surprised. I had a feeling that he didn’t expect me to remember that event so clearly. Many others in the room suddenly averted their eyes, uncomfortably looking at the floor. “Why no,” Havoc said, “as I told you then, he was just a little Skunk Yeti. You are going to be a full-blown Bigfoot.”

“Need I remind you that I am not a big guy?” I pointed.

General Havoc stepped closer and looked up into my eyes. I suddenly realized that I was looking down at him, even though he was almost six and a half feet tall. By comparison, I must have been close to eight feet tall at that point. “It took four of us to put you on your feet just now,” he reminded me, “look at your hands, Reid.”

I looked at my hands in horror. They were covered by thick fur. My bare palms were leathery, and my thumbs were low, toward the wrist bone. When did this happen to me, and why hadn’t I noticed? I watched the faces around me as they witnessed me come to the realization of what had happened to me. It was not at all what they were trying to transform me into so much as that they were successful and nearly complete in my fundamental transformation. I reached to my hip. “Where is my gun?” I demanded.

Havoc looked confused, alarmed even, “You remember your gun?” He quickly shook off his surprise, “It wouldn’t do you any good now anyway. Even if you weren’t inherently more deadly than bullets, your finger won’t even fit in the trigger guard anymore. Don’t worry about your gun.”

Where is my wife?” I roared. I suddenly realized that my voice was entirely different from what I had known my voice to be.

“You remember your wife?” This seemed to shock General Havoc even more than the previous question.

I could smell the fear in the room, “Where is she?”

“She’s safe,” Havoc assured without really answering my demand. Two figures in helmets with guns rushed into the room behind him. He raised his arms to block them, “No, don’t. You’ll only piss him off. Just put your rifles down. We need him to be calm.”

“Fine,” I said, “I’ll find her myself.” I took off on all fours and didn’t stop for the closed double doors but plowed them completely off their hinges on my way through.

As the doors clattered to the floor, I heard Havoc cry, “he’s going to tear this place apart!”

“Your fault!” I yelled over my shoulder as I turned down another hall.

*Edited to read “Your fault” instead of “You’re fault”. I still can’t believe that I perpetrated such an annoying grammatical error!

The Becoming – Part 5

Part 1, Part 4, Part 6

Part 5

Havoc chuckled, “Yeah, he’s just a Skunk Yeti. There are lots of different Sasquatch in the world.”

Weird. I hadn’t paid that much attention to cryptids, although maybe I should have at one time or another. At this point in life, it probably would have done me well.

I pushed him a little, “I asked earlier about what my ‘special talent’ is that you plan to train me on, and we never really got around to the answer there. So, what is it? Everyone else, including my wife, has been assigned training. What do you have in mind for me?”

General Havoc sighed deeply, “I see you as the kind of guy that can take like four to ten men in hand-to-hand combat simultaneously. You will be the bowling ball that we can roll through the enemy lines. Repeatedly.”

“Dude,” I laughed, “I’m not a big guy. I can hold my own, but I’d be hard pressed to get a couple guys in one go.”

He reprimanded, “Reid, when you get where you are going, you’d shock yourself on what you are capable of. That’s why I need you to be like Gandhi. I can’t have you getting mad. Even in a room full of armed guards, if you aren’t in control of yourself, you would be deadly.”

“So,” I asked, “everyone else has started their training. When do I get to start mine?”

“You’re in the middle of it,” Havoc said, “Why don’t you go and get a little sleep and we’ll do some more tomorrow. Go spend some time with your wife.”

He was right. I still didn’t like the guy too much, but he wasn’t always wrong either. So, I took my leave and found my way back to my quarters. When I got there, Naomi was there and completely energized. She was excited and told me all about her evening. When she had gotten back to the lab, they had set her project aside to ‘grow’ and had moved on to another few projects involving plants and lodestones and other things. Although it was fascinating, I was completely wiped and ready to sleep.

“I still don’t trust General Chaos,” I sleepily mused.

“Havoc,” Naomi corrected me, “It’s General Havoc.”

“Whatever,” I murmured as I gave way to slumber. She told me that she would need to wake up early to get to the lab. I was so tired that I fell to sleep to the pleasant sound of her excited chatter and planned to sleep in a little in the morning. It felt like as soon as I closed my eyes, I was awake again. the floor and bed were shaking and there was a terrible rumbling sound. The furniture was walking on the carpet because the vibration was so bad. Naomi had already left for the day. The phone rang. As in, the room’s land line rang. With furniture walking across the floor and objects being propelled through the air, I answered the phone. It was my dad. My mind was blown.

“Hey, I was wondering if you were coming over for lunch tomorrow,” asked my dad.

I answered, “Sure, that sounds great. Do you need us to bring anything?”

“No, I think we have it covered,” he said, “did I catch you at a bad time?”

“Well,” I said, dodging flying objects, “a little bit. Maybe we’ll just talk about it more tomorrow?”

And then, I actually woke up. The phone call had been a dream. The floor really was rumbling and the furniture was rattling and walking a little bit. The phone was not ringing, but I remembered my dad calling in my dream. I threw on my pants and rushed into the hall to see what was going on. There in the hall, around the corner, I saw two more strange creatures. These were disembodied heads that were around seven feet tall. They were talking to each other and flexing their psychokinetic powers. I yelled at them to tell them to stop but they couldn’t hear me over the noise they were producing with their bloated minds. So, I fled the scene, hoping to avoid anger, which I’d already been warned against. I went to the main hall – the one with the metal and the demonic wood stove to show up for work. I hunted down General Havoc and asked him for something to do, but he was too busy to talk to me and told me to go to Shelby. I asked Shelby what she might have for me to do. She gave me some papers to sort. In a previous lifetime, it would have only taken me a couple of hours to sort those papers, but with my brain the tired mess that it was, it took me two days.

For a couple of days, Havoc sent me out with recruiters. They always used either a large SUV, full size van, or a school bus. A couple of times, I didn’t know what to do, and when I asked, they instructed me to sit in the van and look scary. I don’t know how to look scary. I’m not a big guy. They assured me that if I just sat there and frowned and stared at them, I’d look scary enough. It worked well enough too. That gave me time to think. Unfortunately, I lacked the will to think, or something. I wanted to think, but I couldn’t. The days went by. Now, I mourn the people that the ‘recruiters’ took that I helped with, now that I can think about their fate. At the time, I couldn’t. I was having a hard time thinking about anything. Once, the recruiters pulled a school bus onto a race track and wedged it into the turn and hopped out of the back with submachine guns. I watched as they mowed down some drivers and dragged others out of their cars. More than two were torn from their cars before they’d even come to rest. I was busy. I was trying to think.

Several days, I spent out in the facility. The facility was huge. It had nooks and crannies. It had corners that nobody thought about. It had rooms that hadn’t been occupied in years that nobody bothered to lock. Nobody bothered to think about them. None of the birds or snakes or lizards or minotaurs or cats or gorgons or officials bothered me in those rooms. When I was there, I wasn’t blinded by sunlight or deafened by the buzz of submachine guns. I was trying to think. When I was among the people, there was the butt tape to falling gut to dizzy nausea thing on at least a couple of occasions, but I couldn’t tell exactly how many. When it happened, it reset my will to think and I had to start over. That’s why the outer corners of the facility did well for me – people would leave me alone. The bird people and the lizard people and the cat people and the people people would leave me alone and I could almost think because of it.

I could almost think. And so, I could almost remember my life. I had gone on vacation. I had a box of parts at one time. I once had parents and lunches. I was married to a beautiful woman. Yes, I had a wife. Her name was Naomi. Where was she? She was with me when I got here, right? I remembered us being together. I remembered our night together when we were introduced to our secret talents. And then, I couldn’t remember being with her since. How many days had it been? I had lost count. I had not slept every night, but I had had several days of doing several tasks each. It had been well over a week, and possibly as much as weeks since we had last seen each other. The emptiness had crept so far into my head that I had nearly forgotten Naomi’s face. In the catacombs under Deep Hawk, I let out a screaming roar of agony, and the tunnels were silent for a few moments because of it. It seemed that even the ventilation gave me a moment of silence. I had found my mission. I had found myself. I had to find my wife. Even if I lost myself, I would not lose her.

*** Yes, there was actually an Inception-style dream-within-a-dream. I have had some wild, vivid, involved dreams before, but this one really took the cake. We’re about half-way through “The Becoming” at this point. I hope you’ve enjoyed it so far!

The Becoming – Part 4

Part 1, Part 3, Part 5

Part 4

Shelby led us back through the main hall and to the glass doors and staircase that Havoc had pointed out before. When the doors opened, the noise was nearly overpowering. It reminded me of stepping onto a factory floor. There were booms and crashes and a general rumble that sounded like a combination of machines working, fans blowing, and water running.

Shouting over the cacophony, Shelby warned us, “Just stay on the foot path as we go past The Playground. Get ready to see some weird stuff.”

“We’ve already seen a lot of weird stuff so far,” I quipped.

Get ready, Reid,” she reiterated.

As we walked down the stone path, we passed more odd creatures. One was not only covered with feathers, but she had a beak and wings. I say ‘she’ because her overall shape was far closer to that of a woman’s figure than a bird. Even her scaled legs and four-toed feet didn’t much take away from the fact that she looked as humanoid as she did bird. There were “people” with fur. Then, we saw creatures that looked nothing like anything else I’d seen. A cross between a snake and a millipede. There was a frog-like creature crawling on the stone ceiling of the cavern. Upon closer look, it was a group of at least a half dozen, but they were changing colors to blend in. Each one had to weigh at least 300-pounds. There was a lake in the cavern and there appeared to be platforms or floating stones sticking up out of the water. On two of these platforms were two figures facing each other, with giant balls of fire swirling around, as though they were sparring – fencing with weapons that were so completely alien to me that I couldn’t categorize them. As I watched them, I saw a great dark form ripple up out of the water. Its eyes were huge like basketballs and its teeth were like thousands of needles protruding from its bony mouth. I thought I saw an angler fish type lure, but couldn’t be sure before it disappeared back into the dark waters. Creatures flew, crawled, climbed, and they were all alien. I felt like a cave man on the Vegas Strip.

“…Reid!” I finally heard Shelby calling my name and realized that it was not the first time she’d called me just now. As I turned she said, “you weren’t ready. Anyway, we’re here. Don’t forget to listen. This is going to go pretty quick as most of the other students have had a head start on you and they need to go to The Playground for a while.”

I had been staring out onto the lake in The Playground and the bizarre wonders there to be seen, and I had completely missed the wall of glass behind me that was the classroom. We went into the classroom and found a table to sit down. There were other people in the classroom, and I recognized a few of them from the first room – the one with the projector and shuttered booths. But, they all looked different now. It was hard to identify what the difference was. Many of them were now wearing uniforms and sat a little straighter, as though they had boosted their confidence. I didn’t think that we’d been here more than a few hours, but these people looked like they’d been training for weeks. Just exactly how much time had passed? General Havoc came in with an assistant and they basically explained the same things over again from his original speech to us.

“Each of you has special, unique talents,” he said, “you’ve been selected because of these talents. Your training will help bring out these talents.” And then, he said some interesting things that he hadn’t said before, “almost all of you have talents that you don’t even know you have. But, we know you have those talents and we’re going to show them to you.”

Wait. That’s weird. I hadn’t even ever heard of this place before those guys brought us here after the bus broke down when we were on our way to… Where were we going? And, why were we going there? I remember the bus broke down. It was probably the radiator or something. And then, we rode with two guys, and then we were here… Anyway, that’s not the point. If they sought us out before we had even heard of them, then it stands to reason that they’d been watching us for a while. And, if they were watching us because of ‘special, unique talents’ then the recruiter meant to be there to pick us up when the bus broke down. And, how about that coincidence that the bus just happened to break down when it did. Was this whole thing a setup? Had they been stalking us and sabotaged the bus with the sole purpose of bringing us to this place? And then, as quickly as that, I could no longer remember why I was the least bit upset or angry with Deep Hawk.

During the orientation, many of the students displayed their budding new talents that they had learned since we all arrived at the facility. Some of their actions would have seemed downright magical, had I not just been witness to all the weirdness going on around me. As Shelby promised, the orientation was short. The most advanced students went to The Playground or their own labs that were tucked away in deep corners of the facility. Havoc took Naomi and me into a small room that was off of the metal hall with the demonic wood burning stove. The room had a bar-height table with bar stools around it. Two tiny men were waiting for us there. They couldn’t have been much over two feet tall each and weren’t perfectly miniaturized, with obvious signs of dwarfism.

Havoc addressed these two directly and said, “Boys, I’m feeling like a little chemistry tonight. Would you please bring my equipment?” The two diminutive men scuttled out of the room. Havoc turned to Naomi next, “How do you feel about electronics?”

“I don’t know,” she said, “I like them just fine I guess.”

“I’m talking about control systems primarily,” he clarified.

“Well,” she responded, “I’ve done a little programming. Nothing too intense, but you know.”

“No,” he further clarified, “integrated circuits. Oh well, it doesn’t much matter if you have had any experience with them. The skill set we want you to learn is completely different, but it’s just the best starting point that you might have from life outside of here. I’d like you to meet Claire,” he indicated behind him.

“Hi,” Claire said, and they shook hands, “if you would like, I could show you the lab. Right now it’s closed so you could warm up to it at your own pace.”

Naomi looked at me for an opinion. We’d made it a point not to get separated so far at Deep Hawk. “Go on,” I encouraged, “I’ll catch up to you tonight in a little while. So she went to the new lab with Claire.

General Havoc stood next to me and said, “You’re a good man!” and gave a coach-like slap to the butt. But, it felt like he stuck a sticker there.

“Oh no,” I uttered as the sticker feeling melted into gut-lifting nausea and dizziness, “What did.. what did you do?” was all I could get out in my disorientation.

“Oh, you alright there?” he steadied me by putting his arm under mine and deflected my question.

The two miniature men came back in with a couple of aluminum briefcases at that moment. He helped me to a barstool and took the cases from his little helpers. He opened the cases and inside were vials and chemicals, and measuring vessels and test tubes and all kinds of things. “As I was saying earlier,” he said as he began to mix chemicals, “we all have special talents. Some are common between us, and some are singularly unique. Not all of these talents are particularly useful,” he placed a glass in front of me with a blue steaming liquid in it, “but even some of those are fun. Drink up. It will help clear your head.” He continued to mix and stir and add liquids to a large clear glass bowl as he talked, “I’m sure that by now you’ve realized that you will see things here that you have never seen before.” He produced some straight sticks that were spiral striped red and white. Candy canes? But they weren’t canes, just sticks. He dipped them into the blue liquid in the bowl and stirred them slowly and the liquid flashed and turned orange. He slowly withdrew the candy canes which were now being orbited by dozens of tiny glowing sparks. He handed these to his two tiny helpers, “Those look about right, don’t they, guys?” then he added a couple more fluids until the bowl went from orange back to blue. As he did so, he continued to talk to me, “I’m sure that right now, your lovely wife is learning that she is capable of some things that she’s never even thought of. Don’t be shocked if she’s so engrossed in her work that you don’t even see her for the next few days.”

As if on cue, I heard Naomi’s voice, “Look what I made!” I turned and she presented me with a little box about the size of an Altoids tin. Inside it were what looked like little charcoal boxes and cylinders. Upon closer inspection, the objects inside had particular light deflection, as though they had consistent surface textures.

“Is that…” I asked, unsure of my perception.

“It’s a microcomputer,” she announced with proud excitement, “it’s an extremely powerful one. With the right software, it might even be self-aware.”

“Seriously?” I asked incredulously.

Claire nodded, “She shows a lot of promise.”

As Naomi looked into her little boxful of computer, her eyes sparkled with a glossy sheen that I’d never seen there before. She thoughtfully poked at its components with her finger, and I saw a blue spark run from her finger into the microcircuitry and dance over the components. She looked so happy.

“I love you,Naomi,” I told her.

She smiled at me, “I love you too, Reid!”

“Let’s get your project back to the lab for now,” said Claire.

My wife looked back at me and said, “I’ll catch up to you in our quarters later.”

When they had left, I asked General Havoc, “So, everyone has stuff going on and a direction to go, but I’m still in the dark here. What are you training me for?”

He sighed and said, “Walk with me, will you?” and he handed me one of his special candy canes.

I polished off my drink and hardly even remembered the slap on the butt and the subsequent unpleasantness. the sparks orbiting the candy cane had a very bright, sweet flavor. We were walking back up the white hall toward the front room with the dim mercury vapor lights. He was explaining to me again that we’re all different and have to work at our own paces. I was feeling warm and pleasant, and let him talk. He was hitting all the talking points that I’d heard him hit previously and I just didn’t care. When we got to the front room, it was even darker than I remembered. He sauntered over to the corner to the left of the stage and leaned against the shuttered window as he talked. As he talked, I stopped and looked up at him, and saw two of him. the one closest to me was talking and the one to his right was not. I looked closely at the second General Havoc and noticed what looked like a barrier of white fur between his legs. The one who was talking handed a candy cane to the other one who took it.

“He’s pretty good, isn’t he?” one Havoc addressed the other, who nodded in response. At that, the second Havoc seemed to melt down into another creature. It was standing upright, and was covered in fluffy white hair. Its face was nearly man-like but almost like an ape. the creature stood at less than five feet tall. At five foot six, it was pretty easy for me to gauge this creature’s height. At that point, the creature seemed to melt into the brick wall behind him, and then he was gone.

“What was that?” I asked.

“What was what?” Havoc responded.

“You know damned well what I’m talking about. What was that creature that mimicked you? Was that a Sasquatch?”

“Oh him,” Havoc chuckled, “Just another one of my helpers. He’s just a little Skunk Yeti.”

I had heard about the diminutive Skunk Ape myth from the southeast and I had heard of the Yeti of the Himalayas, but I had never heard of a cross between them. Then again, I had never paid too much attention to cryptids. Given the current circumstances, I wished that I had.

The Becoming – Part 3

Part 2 is here and part 4 is here. Part 1 is here, if you want to start at the beginning.

Part 3

So, we were finally led through those double doors, deeper into the building. There were the white painted walls and white vinyl floor that I had seen as others passed through the doors before me. the ceilings were white, industrial ceiling tiles with fluorescent lighting. The hall was long and stark, and there were unmarked doors here and there down its expanse. After about a hundred yards, the hall ended at yet another set of double doors.

“This is where most of the magic happens,” said General Havoc, as he swung open the doors. Behind them was a breathtaking amount of activity, full of color and motion. He pointed to the glass doors on the left that led down a staircase into a large, dark chamber, “That’s The Playground. That’s where we do the dangerous stuff. The classroom is down there too.”

This corridor was lined with metal framing and instruments of mysterious purposes, with dials and gauges that made whirs and ticks. There was what appeared to be a large furnace to the right. It looked almost like an old-fashioned wood burning stove, but the wicked, red glow that seeped from the cracks between the doors and hinges suggested that there was no mere wood fire within. On the left side of the hall there was a narrow counter top with small observation windows that overlooked parts of ‘The Playground’ and there were passages to other rooms to the right, past the furnace thing. All up and down this hall, there were at least a dozen or so… workers. They were almost like people. Most of them were bipedal creatures, but none of them looked quite human. Several of them looked anything but human, truth be told.

Havoc pointed out various creatures and introduced them, but my head swam with the unexpected sensory overload, and I missed most of the introductions, “Are you listening, Reid?” he asked. Introducing us to a woman severely dressed in red and black he announced, “this is Shelby. If you need anything, you’re best off addressing your questions to her. She knows more of what’s going on around here than I do, and she’ll take care of you.” Many of the creatures looked like mythical characters. There was a gorgon, and a minotaur, and a… I didn’t have any clue what that thing was, but he had scales and claws. And, that one had feathers. Some of the more human ones had eyes that were not quite the right shape, or orientation, or color even. Even those that looked the most normal wore strange uniforms that I had never seen before, such as flight suits from another race of creatures. To put it simply, it looked kind of like a costume party.

“So, you’re the new kids?” asked Shelby.

“That’s us,” Naomi smiled at her.

She smiled back, “Don’t worry. We’re all freaked out on the first day.” And then, she said to me, ” I will tell you that you might watch out for her.”

That’s when I felt the hand grab my butt. The woman who walked past wore a little white dress, and bright red lipstick – almost but not quite naughty nurse style. She gave a wink over her shoulder as she walked away. It felt as though she had stuck a bumper sticker across my buttocks. I reached back to feel for the offending sticker, which wasn’t there. The feeling of having something stuck on my seat melted into a gut feeling like I’d just fallen from someplace high up. I wasn’t sure what the woman in white had done, but it was something. It was something that was weird and unwelcome and I had never experienced anything like it before.

“What was that?” I gasped.

Naomi looked at me in confusion. Apparently, she’d missed the whole thing. I have to admit that it happened extremely fast, and the woman might have escaped my view as well, had Shelby not pointed her out to me.

“Don’t worry about that,” Shelby said with a little too much concern on her face for me to feel comfortable with her dismissal, “As I said, you might watch out for that one. She’s a mess.”

As the feeling faded it gave way to mild nausea and wooziness. I steadied myself with my hand on the door frame as I regained my head. “Duly noted,” I said.

She quickly changed the subject, “Let’s get you the keys to your quarters and settle you in so you can go to class. I know General Havoc wants to start you two on training as soon as possible, and there’s orientation and introductions to be made in the meantime.”

She led us down one of the side passages into an industrial carpet labyrinth of passages. The colors were a little softer than the stark white and metal that we had just seen, and the lighting was a little warmer than the sterile, cool fluorescents. Eventually we made it to a wood door that the keys unlocked. Inside was a queen-sized bed, a dresser, a small table and two chairs. There were lamps on both sides of the bed, and there was a night stand with a land line telephone. Everything was clean, but it looked like it had been furnished from a hotel supply. Upon noticing the phone, I had a suspicion and pulled out my cell phone. Sure enough, there was no signal.

“Yeah,” Shelby said, noticing my cell phone, “we’re so far underground that you’ll never get a signal down here.”

“Don’t you ever get lost in this place?” Naomi inquired.

“You’d be surprised,” Shelby said, “your training will… well, you’ll learn to remember the important stuff.” Before we could ask for clarification of her cryptic comments, she continued, “besides that, if you have any trouble, I’ll help you out until you know your way. Most anybody here will be glad to help you if you need it.”

“So what’s next,” Naomi asked.

“Well,” Shelby explained, “I need to take you to the classroom so you can do orientation, and then I think General havoc wants to meet with the two of you. It will be very informal; mostly just getting to know expectations in both directions.”

“What is with that guy, anyway?” I asked.

“What do you mean?” Shelby seemed genuinely confused.

I read her face for a moment before responding, “Nothing. Nevermind.”

The Becoming – Part 2

It may be ill-advised, but I’m trying my hand at fiction after a 10+ year hiatus. This is the second installment in the retelling of a wacky dream I had one night. Click here for part 1. The next one will be found here.

Part 2

He said he was a General. General of what, I wondered. The few uniforms I had seen so far certainly didn’t look much like military uniforms. I had to wonder if it was a self-imposed title or if it actually meant something. I did get the distinct impression that he was supposed to the the guy in charge around here.

“Babe,” I said, “That man said his name was General what?”

“General Havoc,” Naomi answered.

“What a weird name,” I mused, “I mean, what were his parents thinking?” I was tempted to ask if that was a nickname or shortened form of something else, but I usually put my foot in my mouth when I ask that sort of thing. My thoughts were interrupted by another man who had taken the stage and was calling names off a list. We all listened carefully for our names, and then those whose names were called were instructed to file through the double doors to our left. Our names were not called, but we watched as those that were made their way deeper into the facility. I curiously craned my neck to see through the doors, but all I saw was a white-walled hallway with white vinyl flooring. When the group of people made it through the doorway, the doors were closed behind them. After we had waited for some time, I began to get bored and then to get drowsy. I laid down on one of the couches and closed my eyes. Then, I became aware of a presence nearby. I opened my eyes to a squint against the anemic but irritating mercury vapors to see a silhouette standing over me. It took me a second to realize that it was my ‘friend’ from before.

“It’s me, Mike,” he said, “we met earlier.”

“Yeah.” I sat up. I hadn’t realized it but I must have fallen asleep.

“So, I tried to talk to your wife but she didn’t want to talk to me. Is that rude or what? Anyway, are you excited for when they call you?”

I stared at Mike in disbelief, “You seriously just woke me up for that?”

He stammered a little bit, “Well, I mean, I’m not really too excited about it, but a lot of other people act like they are and I just didn’t know, I mean, I was curious if you were too…”

“Look guy,” I said, “I’m tired of this room, and I’m tired of being in the dark both figuratively and literally,” I rolled my eyes across the room as if to punctuate my annoyance at the low light, “I don’t know how they do things where you’re from, but it’s generally considered rude to wake someone from sleep to make small-talk.”

“Geez. Sorry. I didn’t mean to rub you the wrong way,” said Mike ineffectually as he shuffled away.

I laid there on the couch and fumed. There was precisely one other person in this place that I cared anything about, and that was Naomi. I was tired. But, I couldn’t get back to sleep. I sat up and looked around. The crowd had thinned out significantly; it was pretty obvious that I had slept through a couple of roll calls. A few couches down, I saw my wife reading a book. I turned and there was my case of parts at my feet. I stretched and yawned, and picked up the case, standing up to go and join her when I was jarred from behind.

“Oh sorry,” said Mike as my case crashed to the floor, scattering parts across the carpet as the lid sprung open. It was pretty obvious that he hadn’t bumped me on purpose, but was simply clumsy. Still he had hit me hard.

“What is your problem?” I blew up at him, “Would you watch where you are going? You know what? On second thought, just stay away from me. And my wife, and my stuff too!”

“I’m really sorry,” he persisted and crouched, “Here, let me help you.”

“No, I’ve got it. These things have their own little compartments.”

As I gathered the parts off the floor, a different voice asked, “you really don’t get it, do you, Reid?” This was a loud, smoke-seasoned voice. The ‘General.’

I put the last of the parts back into the case and stood up, “Look, Mr. Panic, he was…”

He interrupted me by slapping the case out of my hand. It violently hit the ground, the lid cracked off its hinge and every part inside the case went flying. “That’s General. Havoc.” he corrected.

In all fairness, I was never very good with names.

“You don’t get it do you? What good are those parts to you anymore? What value do the contents of that box have at this point? Would you like to be compensated for them? Do you understand that by the time you’re done here, you won’t even remember what was in that case? Do you want to be part of this program or not, Reid?”

Again, the little voice was telling me to leave. And again, I should have listened. But, you know what they say about curiosity and its effect on the cat. Yes, I wanted to see how far down the rabbit hole went.

“Fine,” I said, “You win. I don’t need those anymore. Do you want me to be more patient with Mike as well? Would that make you happy?”

“Ecstatic,” said Havoc, “That’s what we’ve been waiting for. Are you and Naomi ready to go in to start your training?”

I was flabbergasted, “That’s really all there was to it?”

He then turned to Mike, “good job. I’ll see you at your next briefing.” And then to me, “we needed to assure that you in particular could learn patience and how to let go of anger.”

That one really had me confused, “I have not historically had an anger problem, and what in the world gave you the idea that…”

“Calm. Remember. We have specific plans for you and it is imperative that you learn to go above and beyond what has ever been expected of you. Above and beyond what is ever expected of anyone else actually. In order to proceed with your training, I need you to be like Gandhi.”

I still didn’t trust him, but I found myself complying with his request, “Alright. I’m calm. What kind of training is this anyway? You may have to explain this to me a little further.”

“Understood and agreed,” he said, “I’ll tell you more a little later. Why don’t both of you come with me for now?” he addressed to Naomi and me. I motioned to the mess of parts and broken case on the floor. “Don’t worry about that,” he assured, “I’ll have one of my guys clean up that junk.

The Becoming – Part 1

Last week, I made a short reference to quite a strange dream that I had several weeks ago. When I was a teenager, I penned a little fiction. I’ve mused about exploring that further, either editing the admittedly thin narratives from my younger years or fleshing out some of the ideas that kind of dead-ended for me. I’ve also wanted to play with some original work, but haven’t really known what direction to go with it. This dream that I mentioned earlier was really quite compelling and I think it will make a great starting point, so I will make an attempt to serialize it in a written story here. I’ll try to keep it in small enough chunks that it doesn’t take any huge commitment to read, but provide links so that you can read it all at once if you so choose. Well, assuming you stumble across it when more of it has been published. So anyway, please do let me know how you like it as it progresses, but try to be gentle as I haven’t done much fiction since I was a kid. Anyway, here’s the first installment:

Part 1

I disliked Havoc from the first moment I saw him, and I eventually came to find out that my prejudice was well justified. I don’t know whether that was the name his mother gave him at the time of his unfortunate birth, his inherited surname, or an alias that he picked up along the way; but I appreciate the irony that havoc is exactly what he does to the lives of anyone that crosses his path. It never ceases to amaze me how people will so willingly let him hijack their lives. It seems like so long ago when my life took such a strange curve and some of the details are fuzzy now, as though they occurred in a dream long ago.

My wife and I were on a trip. We were passengers on a bus headed for a resort for a working vacation. For personal protection, I was wearing my pistol, as I always did in those days. I never needed to use it, and I have no idea where it even is at this point. She and I were so happy; it seems like we never had a care in the world. I know that’s not as true as I remember it, but as compared to what we’ve been through since, it’s quite a reasonable feeling. I had with me a case of something that was related to work – small parts or something. As I said, some of the finer details are vague from the old days. I remember that the items seemed important at the time.

Before we reached our intended destination, the bus had to stop. It was most likely the radiator or a radiator hose, as it was losing a lot of coolant and there was quite a bit of steam coming from the engine compartment. The bus company offered to put us up in a hotel while they had the bus repaired, but we had a schedule that we had to keep. We met some people at the truck stop that offered us a ride. As nice as this seemed, we should have declined their offer. I know now that they would have become insistent, and I should have then used my pistol. But, had I known then what I do now, things would have turned out far differently.

They did not take us to the resort where we were headed, but instead took us to Deep Hawk. At first, I was not alarmed because I didn’t know the way to the resort, and thought that our alternative destination might be a facility in the resort itself. Its name is officially Deep Hawk Training Center, but it should more rightly be called a human trafficking detention center. I still had my pistol on my hip at that point. Had I known then what I know now… and yet I repeat myself. We were shown to a large room and instructed to wait.

The room was about the size of a basketball court and was finished darkly. The floors were in brown, industrial carpet, the walls were dark red painted cinder blocks, and the cavernous, industrial ceiling was painted black. There were too few mercury vapor lights that burned starkly, not adequately or comfortably lighting the room, but still casting harsh shadows. Whether the room was not equipped with enough lights or if it had some that were not lit was nearly impossible to determine with the contrast of the harsh light produced against the black background. There were couches and chairs arranged loosely into multiple seating areas about the floor. Around the walls, there were what looked like vending booths with shuttered windows, and there were several sets of double doors. On one end of the room, there was a large projector screen playing commercial material advertising DHTC. There were other people being escorted into the room from the various double doors.

“This seems odd for a resort,” my wife commented to me, “What is Deep Hawk Training Center? Is that an activity offered by the resort?”

“I don’t know,” I responded, “I don’t recall anything about it in the literature.

One of the other people in the room approached me, “Hey buddy, do you know what is going on here?”

“No, I don’t. Do you know where we are?” I returned the question.

“Can’t say,” he said and offered a handshake, “The name is Mike.”

“Hi,” I responded coldly. I didn’t know where I was, but I was not there to make friends. My dread continued to deepen as I overheard others in the rapidly crowding room wondering aloud where they were and why they were brought there. I was scanning the doors to see if we might be able to slip out when a booming voice came from the end of the room opposite of the projector, as if in answer to everyone’s concerns. He was about six foot five, broad shouldered, and had a neatly trimmed beard.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he addressed us, “I’m certain you’re all wondering why you are here, and I’m going to tell you. I’d like to welcome you to Deep Hawk Training Center. Here we train the best of the best elite forces. Right now, you are thinking to yourself that you’ve never heard of us. That is correct. Nobody had ever heard of us, not even the other so-called elite forces. Each and every one of you has been individually selected for your unique talents that we will help you to cultivate and develop in return for your service.”

There must have been something pumped into the vents, because this sounded like a far better proposition than it seems in retrospect. I was not alone as I noticed the unanimous reaction of excited anticipation from the crowd. I made eye contact with my wife and could tell that she was also fascinated by the proposition put before us. the side doors opened and several people came in wearing strange uniforms. The group cleared a path for them as they made their way to the center of the room. One of the men crouched and then leaped up into the air, spanning the thirty-foot rise to the ceiling, and grasping the ceiling supports with his heels, hanging upside-down. Another man outstretched his hands and the couch in front of him levitated above the crowd. A woman with them held her hands out, palms up, and produced flames from her hands which blazed ten feet into the air, hotly, like the burner in a hot air balloon.

In his tobacco-seasoned, gravely voice the speaker continued, “When we’re done with you, you will jump higher, run faster, and hit harder than you ever thought possible. Many of you will become weapons experts, some of you will be intel masters, and others of you will build skills that exceed the limits of your imagination. If you are not interested in realizing your full potential, there’s the door.”

Not an eye turned in the direction he pointed, granting further credence to the possibility that we were all being drugged for compliance by way of the ventilation system. I unwisely ignored the little voice telling me that this was going to be a long and unpleasant journey. I didn’t trust our hosts a single bit, but I found myself irresistibly intrigued by the proposition.

“My staff and I will oversee your training and conditioning over the next few months. I am General Havoc and I’d like to welcome you all to the program.”

In a previous entry, I asked for advice on POV and other details. I obviously decided to write this first-person, but I have yet to settle on names for the protagonists. The dream was first-person point of view, and unlike some of my other vivid dreams, I was me and I was married to Jenni. I know, but it’s really not as bad as it sounds. Anyway, the storyline deviates so far from reality that it seems pretty contrived to stick with “Michael & Jenni”. So, please help me out with some suggestions so I don’t have to name them “Pubert & Shanaenae” or “Sven & Olga” or something silly even. Or, if you think that I should go ahead and leave them named after us, please tell me that as well.

Edited to fix terminology of lighting technology. o_O

Edited to clarify that the windows weren’t shuddering, but were closed with shutters.

Also edited for a typo in the footnotes.

Part two will permalink here.

Catching Up – Dreams and Such

I’m sorry for how… …manic my posting has been. It seems that right as I get into the habit of daily blog entries something random occurs and all of a sudden you get nothing for two weeks or so. Well, I don’t have a whole lot to report this morning, but I thought you deserved some kind of update. It may have been a mistake to incorporate bacon into two meals yesterday. Weird dreams were had by all. Perhaps even weirder than this:

However, they weren’t nearly as weird as the time I had the epic dream about the evil corporation that was transforming me into a sasquatch and Jennifer into some kind of electric babe, and we were supposed to forget each other in the whole transformation process. That one pretty well took the weird cake for me, and yet it was cohesive enough a story that I could probably write it into a pretty entertaining narrative. I’ve been wanting to do that, but I’m trying to decide whether I should write it in first person or limited third. And then, do I write it as myself, or change identification for the sake of the write up?

In Jennifer’s dreaming, we had to run some miscreants out of LawDog‘s flower bed, threatening them that they had trespassed into the wrong garden, and then we all had a party. In my dream, my parents dismantled my car, so I had a sleep-over in a car shop with my best buds (because that’s totally what grown men do), until the place got overrun by people doing some kind of battle drills, and then this random chick from YouTube kissed my neck in something of an emotional breakdown, and they had to drag her away.

So, yeah. The dreams were weird but not all that weird in the grand scheme of things. I may see what it would take to set up a parallel page here where I can post some fiction work, and get some of that down. Or, should I simply create a “fictional narrative” category and post it in line here, as some other bloggers tend to do? Also, I’d love your input about the form of my write up of the previously mentioned weird dream – whether I ought to go first or third person, and whether I should rename characters or roll with it like it happened in my unconscious mind.