A Good Cleaning

Here we have a little tale about a man who feels he was wronged and what he does to even the score. Some may find this “R” rated so be forewarned. I present to you:

A Good Cleaning

by James R. Colbert, Jr.

 

All morning Rob Neri felt like something big was about to happen, but he didn’t know what it could be, just a feeling…a premonition…a storm maybe. No clouds, but he could feel it, a storm, he was sure. The radio had been broadcasting about avoiding the downtown area; some so-called training exercise was happening, evidently. Rob never did trust the news much and always checked the “web” when he felt there was more to a story than was being reported. Rob had just booted up his computer to see if he could get any news about what was happening downtown when the phone began to ring.

“Hello?”

“Hey, Rob! It’s Jack. Have you got any info on what’s happening?”

“Only that there is some kind of bomb scare ‘training exercise’ supposedly happening. I’m just booting up my system now to see if anything more is on the ‘net.”

“Well, there is something you need to check out. I was online, checking out MyVideo.com when this weird one came to my attention. It’s live, man and everyone is watching it. It looks like this is a real bomb scare and, like, the bomber is, like making a confession, man, check it out. I just wanted you to know about it, dude. Catch ya’ later.”

The call ended and Rob turned his attention to his monitor. He clicked onto the MyVideo.com site and had no trouble locating the live, streaming feed that did, indeed, seem to be broadcast by a person who was claiming to be responsible for what was happening. Rob turned up the volume, expanded the screen to full view and watched in horror as the event unfolded before him.

• • • •

“…So, this is how it feels? I can tell you that it’s not what I expected. I thought it would be far more exciting, but it is what it is. Not that I’m not pretty damn excited; just not the level I anticipated. Isn’t that just the way, though? You count on something being a certain way, envision it your mind, build it up, obviously much more than the reality warrants, until you can taste it, feel it with every fiber of your being; then when it happens, when you actually are doing…seeing…experiencing the thing you’ve worked toward, it all seems to be not nearly as much as you hoped for. That’s where I am now.

Listen to that. I can hear the sirens getting closer now. It certainly took them long enough. You taxpayers should be upset about that. You’d think when something this serious happens the response time would be quicker. Not that it would have mattered. I’ve had this planned out for almost a year now. It will not be stopped; the clock is already ticking…literally. You probably want to know how I was able to get the material. I’ll have to admit, they… ‘they’ would be the bastards in charge, they have made it rather difficult, but not impossible. Using my rapier wit, charm, a liberal dose of cash and a large selection of amoral, money-hungry people (many of which share my hatred of this corrupt system we live in) the items I needed were secured. You must be wondering, why? What am I doing this for? What is my end goal? That, my friends, is precisely why I am recording this. I don’t want any of the media or other fools trying to tell you what was going through my mind. I will guarantee you whatever they come up with will be pure, unmitigated bullshit. So, listen and learn.

I’d say this all started about five, maybe even six years ago. Now, I’d never been overly fond of the authorities, and don’t try to feed me some nonsense about how much love and respect you have for them; no one I’ve ever met really felt that way. That’s just some lame crap everyone has been conditioned to say, otherwise, society will label you as politically incorrect, so you might as well admit it, you don’t think much of them either. Anyway, a few years back, I was living my life–probably a lot like you are doing now–when…”

“The knocking was more persistent now. Even through the fog of being semi-asleep, I could no longer deny that someone was trying to get my attention. The clock display showed the time in it’s glowing green numbers, 2:40 AM. Who the hell is pounding on my door at this time of night? I thought to myself. I slowly swung my legs, one at a time, over the side of the bed. I fumbled around in the dark, the clock’s luminescence the only illumination since the streetlight blew out the week before. Finally, I located my discarded boxer shorts I’d shed before getting under the covers and slowly maneuvered to my bedroom door as my eyes strained to see in the dark. I found the doorknob and opened the door. The hallway was slightly more vision friendly and by then my level of consciousness had ticked up a few points. The pounding on the door continued to convey a sense of urgency, and I tried to comply by willing myself to move a little faster. I reached the door and spoke in what I considered to be a fine rendition of a pissed off guy that has been rudely awakened.
‘Stop your damn pounding already! Who is it and what do you want at this hour?’ As I spoke, I realized that I had not thought to arm myself with any sort of weapon, or anything like that. For all I knew, whoever was on the other side of the door was some intruder just waiting for the right opportunity to rob and kill me. I spotted the umbrella I usually kept by the door (although I almost never used an umbrella, it had always just seemed to be something you would keep by the door) and made a quick grab for it. I did not open the door.

The insistent pounding had ceased, but no one answered from the other side.

‘Well…I’m waiting. Speak up, who the hell is it?’

Silence. I waited a few more moments before deciding to chance a peek. I carefully opened the door, trying to brace it with my (bare) foot. I could see no one. I opened it a little more, then, still seeing no one, slowly relaxed. I stepped out onto the porch floor and scanned the walkway and surrounding area. There was something lying in a heap near the foot of the steps. A person.

I was taken aback and stood there for a minute. My mind trying to process what I was looking at while at the same time denying the reality that a person, by the looks of it a female, was, in fact, apparently asleep (or more likely unconscious) in my front yard. My own sleepiness was gone now, replaced with a sudden release of adrenalin as my mind and body reacted to the unfolding events. Other than the still form of the chick on my front walk and myself, I detected no one else in the area. I cleared the three steps as one and bent down to check on the status of the girl. She was alive and breathing, but clearly out of it. She did little more than grunt a little when I tried to talk to her. It was just starting to rain at this point. I didn’t want to just leave her out in the rain while I called the cops and an ambulance, so I thought I’d try to bring her into the house. I attempted to wake her out of her stupor-like state; I would have had better luck winning the lottery. The only way this chick was going to move was if I moved her, so I did.

She was a small, petite girl and if I say so myself, I was in fairly good physical condition, but she was still about all I’d want to try to carry up those steps into the house. I tried to lay her gently down on my couch, but nearly tripped and ended up with a clumsy falling/throwing maneuver that ended with half of her on the cushions and the other half hanging off onto the floor. I moved her legs the rest of the way onto the furniture and finally turned on a light so I could see.

I closed the door and re-locked it. Then I turned my attention to my unexpected visitor. She didn’t have much on in the way of clothing that would have covered up any injuries, just a small, effectively sheer top with thin little straps and a pair of virtually skin-tight cutoff shorts that left nothing to the imagination. She didn’t appear to have any serious injuries, no visible cuts or bleeding. Her limbs all appeared to be intact, nothing looked broken or out of place. Judging someone’s age is difficult to me, but even I could tell that she couldn’t have been much older than sixteen or seventeen. And, even though she was wet from the rain and in a disheveled, highly intoxicated state, I could also see she was a very pretty girl. I found myself looking, probably a little too long, at her lying helpless and nearly naked on my couch: I decided then it would be best to retrieve a spare blanket to cover her up with it.

After ensuring she was adequately covered, I poured myself a drink. After all that had happened, I needed one. I called the cops a few minutes after that. They didn’t seem to be in any rush. I’d finished my cocktail and had time to mix another before they arrived. Looking back, I can see that calling them was a mistake. It didn’t matter that I didn’t do anything. All I wanted, was to have them get the girl to the hospital, make sure she was okay, and find out who left her at my house. I had no idea who she was, but I figured someone was probably looking for her. From the first minute they arrived, those pricks treated me as though I’d drugged and raped this chick. They gave my story little more than a cursory listening as I relayed the events of the past couple of hours. The next thing I know, I’m in handcuffs and being lead out to a patrol car.

I was stuck in that damn car for close to two hours, for being a good guy, I guess. As it turned out, someone was looking for her; she was the daughter of Senator George Maritzapas and had been missing for the past three days. The police took me “downtown” for booking around five in the morning. I was kept in a holding cell until sometime around eight am before I was allowed my phone call. I don’t know any big name lawyers, besides the fact that I didn’t have enough cash to pay that kind of money, so I called my brother-in-law, Henry. He’s really the only lawyer I’ve ever met, he’s married to my older sister and he’d always seemed to be a halfway decent guy. He came down within an hour and met with me to go over what had happened so far. The cops told him that I was being charged with kidnapping and unlawfully dealing with a minor–so far. Once the exam of the girl was complete and she sobered up enough so they could question her, more charges were expected. All this because somebody, I’m assuming it to be the person or persons who had her, decided to leave her at my doorstep. Henry told me I would have been much better off if I’d not brought her into the house if I just called the police and left her out in the rain. That’s what you get for trying to be a good guy: fucked. The bail hearing was scheduled for the afternoon, Henry told me the amount would probably be set pretty high. He was right.

The judge was a prick, like most of them I’ve encountered, arrogant, self-important, the kind of dude that wouldn’t dare act like that outside his own little, cloistered world. He was the type that would buy himself a ticket to a busted nose, or black eye, the type of asshole that wouldn’t last ten minutes at some of the bars I went to before someone gave him a set of ‘somer teeth’ you know, some are over there, some are over here and some might still in his big mouth! He was also the esteemed Senator’s wife’s cousin. After pontificating about how heinous the charges against me were and basically calling me a dirtbag, he set bail at $250,000. Like I had any way to swing that! Henry tried to protest the amount, but it did no good. I was remanded back to jail until Henry could try to raise the dough via a bail bondsman.

I have to hand it to my brother-in-law; he came through and had me out on bail within twenty-four hours. As you might imagine, my release came with conditions. I was allowed only to be either at my home or work, no stopping at the bar for a quick one after my day ended, no more visits with my favorite dancer, Allie, down at Tattle Tails Gentlemen’s Club, no more nothing. Oh, and of course, I could have no contact with the Senator’s daughter, Shari…as if I would to begin with. First off, before she showed up at the bottom of my steps, I’d never seen her before in my life, and, even though she is a little hottie, I certainly know better than to mess around with some underage chick. So, I followed the rules and stayed on the straight and narrow. After a couple of days, Henry stopped by to review what my situation was. Things had not gotten better.

My case was on a fast track; Senator Maritzapas apparently had substantial pull and felt his little girl’s attacker, who he “knew” was me, should be dealt with immediately. Henry quizzed me on any potential enemies that would set me up like this, but I could think of no one. I’m sure I pissed an awful lot of people off in my life, but I could not think of anyone that would ever go to such lengths. I told Henry so. His face, normally quick with a smile, was not smiling much when we talked that day.

Finally, my court date came up. I’d opted for a jury trial, Henry felt the judge would let his obvious bias cloud his judgment, that’s lawyerese for, ‘This bastard wants to railroad you on these charges and send your ass to prison,’ so I agreed that a jury might listen to me. I was, at least, somewhat confident that a jury would see that I did not have anything to do with the chick and I’d be vindicated. Then I’d sue these SOB’s so fast their heads would spin.

As you may have guessed, the so-called trial was a joke. I never stood a chance. At every opportunity, the DA portrayed me as a dangerous criminal predator that had a taste for young girls, even though none of the things he implied were ever true. The only time you might even consider me being with a younger girl was way back in high school; the girl I was screwing around with at the time was going to a different school, she told me she was a senior, same as me, she certainly didn’t act, or look like, a younger girl, how would I know she’s bullshitting me about her age? Plus I was just a dumb, horny, teenager for chrissakes. What would you do? Yeah, I thought so, the same thing I did. We’d been ‘dating’ for a few months, the school year was nearly over, I had just turned eighteen when out of nowhere her folks flip out; these were the same people who’d had me stay overnight, at their house, with their daughter, at least, a dozen times before, anyway…they flip and have me arrested and charged with statutory rape, all the while playing it off like they never knew the two of us had been going at it like rabbits for the whole time we’d been together, what bullshit! All that shit was dealt with over twenty years before, but this DA brings it up–I’m still positive what he did was illegal, I guess that’s okay to do, if you’re a crooked bastard–during the trial and the jury buys it, finds me guilty, even though I didn’t do anything but try to help this chick someone left on my steps.

I know a few days went by, I lost track of time for a while, I was placed in custody right away, my bond revoked while I awaited sentencing. Everything during that time period is still not entirely clear until the actual sentence was read to me in court. I heard that, loud and clear: Twenty years. I couldn’t believe it. I looked at Henry; he appeared disgusted with the whole process. The bailiff turned me over to the police, the cuffs went on and I was led out of the courtroom. I looked at the judge on my way out, his face clearly displaying his smug, self-serving opinion of himself. I also caught a glimpse of Senator Maritzapas, a picture of pure arrogance, so pleased with himself; I thought he’d start patting himself on his back any second: what an ass. I think that’s when I first started to see that this shit, the rich elites always getting their way, had to come to a halt and I had to have a hand in it, I just didn’t know just how involved I’d end up being. At this point, I suppose you can say I’m as involved as one can possibly get.”

“Now, where was I? I’ve given you some background, so I may as well get right to it, that is, why I’m doing this thing. It’s simple enough, there is no big mystery, no secret cabal, and no geopolitical agenda, there’s also no chance for me to clear my name, so why? Here it is; they wanted a bad guy, so I’m giving them one. I admit, I was no angel before, I did my share of drinking, whoring, made a fair number of poor decisions, but I never touched that chick or any other young stuff; I am not like that, not then, not now.

My time in prison sucked, as you might imagine. You learn to trust no one–ever. Not the other inmates, not the guards, not your lawyer…not anyone. I’m not going to get into every sordid detail about it, but I’ll tell you the horror stories you’ve heard about prisons…are all true, ‘nuff said. I can also tell you that if you play your cards right, make contact with the ‘right’ people you can learn to tolerate that zoo. I ended up getting to know a real, no shit Russian mobster, Gregori Radovich, who ended up being instrumental in facilitating my escape from that hellhole. He was having some trouble with one of the black prison gangs and one day I walked into a shakedown involving him and a couple of the gang members. They told me to keep moving if I knew what was good for me. Gregori had a defiant look in his eyes; his face turned slightly toward me and silently challenged me to help him out. Something in me made it known that helping him would help me, so I did. These two gang members didn’t expect that, so, I had the element of surprise working for me, plus I’ve always been pretty good in a bar fight. I didn’t want to play any games with these bastards, I went in like a berserker and tore the nearest dude up, actually broke his neck, putting him out of the picture–permanently. That allowed the both of us to work on the other dude. He was a tough bastard, there’s no doubt about it, but so were we. Within a couple of minutes, it was over and both gang bangers were taking a dirt nap. Gregori proved to be very grateful for my intervention and before long, had taken me into his confidence. I’ll have to say that after that neither of us had too much trouble anymore: We never were caught for that. I’m pretty sure Gregori had some serious influence with someone within the system because most of the key members of the gang that tried giving him shit got transferred to a different prison, then two more bought it in a yard brawl (instigated by the Aryans) leaving a far weaker leadership structure that basically just tried to cover their own asses for the rest of the time I was there. After about three years, Gregori asked me if I’d like to work for him on the outside. I told him I was looking at least at ten more years. He just laughed.

‘My friend, if I want you on outside, you’ll be outside.’

‘I don’t understand. If you can get me out, why don’t you get yourself out? Why would you want to stay in here?’

He smiled at me. ‘Because if Gregori Radovich is found to be missing then your National Security people will be called in. I am ‘big fish’ they will not be wanting to have me missing, but you they will not miss so much. I have escape planned for the right person. I am sure you are the person I need.’

I thought about this for probably one whole minute. “I’m in. If you get me out of here, man, I’ll do anything you want.”

‘Excellent, my friend. I will have you back on street by the end of week. Now, say nothing to anyone of this. I will contact you when the time comes.’

I kept my mouth shut. As promised, by the end of the week, Gregori contacted me with the details and instructions I’d need to become a free man. Everything went like clockwork and just about three hours after I’d taken the first steps toward freedom, I was out. Of course, I wasn’t able to live quite the same way as before, I couldn’t very well just go back to my old life, or job. It’s not like my life was great before anyway. Gregori had taken care of everything. I worked for him now; I had more money in my pocket, hooked up with way more hot chicks, and had access to the top of the line booze and drugs too. Given all that, why the hell would I want to go back to my old shitty life anyway?

At first, all I had to do was pick-ups, where I would go and pick-up a package and deliver it. That’s it. That’s all I did for quite a while. I couldn’t even tell you what was in the packages. Most of them were pretty small, the size of a box of cereal maybe, other times they got downright bulky and plenty heavy. I’d never asked what was in them and no one ever told me, suited me just fine. Things went along like this for maybe, oh…I’d say close to six months when I found out about my brother-in-law, Henry.

I’d lost contact with what family I had when I entered the prison system. My folks had died a few years before all my trouble and I was never very close to my sister anyway. Henry was my lawyer, mainly because like what I explained to you earlier, he was the only attorney I ever knew, but I actually did like the guy so when I learned that shortly after my sentence began he started getting harassed by the same bastards that came after me, I began to get pissed off. Henry ended up getting busted on some trumped up tax bullshit and then my loving sister showed her true colors: she left him. That poor bastard ended up offing himself because of all that; he drank himself into a stupor, made sure the garage doors were locked up tight and sat in his prized Corvette with the engine running. That really pissed me off. What right did they have to mess with Henry anyway? Just because he was my lawyer? First, I get set up and fucked over, and then they go after the people I know, my own family. That’s when I think I decided to give them what they wanted. If they had determined that I was a bad guy then I may as well give them a bad guy, right? If anyone is to blame for what is about to happen, it’s those arrogant, self-serving pricks who think they’re King Shit, you know, the people in charge, people like the high and mighty Senator Maritzapas and his fatass wife’s judge cousin. Let me tell ya, they won’t be in charge of very much after my little show here!

Look at those stupid cops; I’m sure they think they have everything under control. Obviously, they have no clue what is going to happen, if they did they’d hightail it out of here. The detonator is timed for about 20 minutes from now. I’ve got the setup rigged with four false circuits–all have power to them so they won’t even know where to start–along with three true detonation circuits, nothing wrong with added redundancy to ensure success. You know, before I came up with this plan, Gregori did help me out with a different idea. Like I told you before, Gregori was a real, kick-ass mob guy, involved in all kinds of…activities, even while he was in the joint. After I found out about poor Henry, I got word to Gregori that I wanted to really fuck these people over, like they fucked me over. He got back to me a few days later, via one of the hot little hookers that worked for him. He’d sent her over with information regarding the fine Senator’s weakness for B&D sessions that involved him being the submissive (figures, doesn’t it?), along with the added bonus of capturing several such “encounters” on video, just the thing that would ruin him. And, yes, the hot little number stayed for a couple hours of playtime, and no, I’m not the submissive type.

Anyway, that idea, of ruining the wonderful Senator’s career (and life) sounded pretty good, but after a while, I wanted to do more, a lot more. I wanted to absolutely, totally, annihilate this whole rotten city and its nasty, rotten people, all of them, so I came up with another plan, one that is almost complete now. Let me say this now, Gregori Radovich did not want this, I did. His contacts helped out a lot, especially when it came to securing the uranium, not an easy task, I’ll tell ya’, but he did not know everything, so don’t blame him for this shit. If someone were to blame, I’d look to Senator Maritzapas and his ilk. Trust me, you’ll be better off once this goes down. I ended up not being able to build one big enough to wipe out the entire cesspool, but I’ll guarantee you won’t want to be within five miles when it happens. Someone better be recording this little video I’m making, I tried to put it on a popular site and there seems to be a pretty big view count, wait until I’m done blabbin’ and I switch to the other camera so you can watch the action when the thing detonates, I bet the count skyrockets then! Let me introduce you to the fine Senator, by the way, I have him here with me. I’ll just move this camera here, like so…there he is, King Shit himself. Oh, look, he’s crying like a baby, what a scumbag. I had to tape his fucking mouth shut because I couldn’t listen to his babble anymore. Yes, he’ll have a fine seat here when the firestorm comes. That’s enough of this asshole, back to my story.”

“Now, I figure there are about five minutes left. See how the cops are trying to move people out. They have a bunch of buses like that will do it. They should just stay here and let the fire incinerate them, that’s what me and my buddy, the Senator are doing, right old buddy? Hey, look at that, a helicopter just landed, probably some kind of special team that will try to disarm the thing, good luck with that.

I hope this little video has explained all this, why I did it. It’s for the best; I hope you can see that. I hope this inspires all of you watching to follow my lead. It’s almost show time now folks, so I’m switching camera views. Okay, there you go, say goodbye to Senator Fuckhead, ‘bye, bye shithead’, and then I’ll move this a bit this way, just like this, there…now you have the same outlook I have. I can’t wait to see my little ‘cleaning’ project happen. And away we go…”

• • • •

Rob–along with six million other people logged onto the site–watched as the screen filled with a blinding light, just before the screen went black he saw the formation of the telltale mushroom cloud associated with a nuclear explosion. All the while, he’d been watching the live video, he’d wanted to run away, leave his apartment, but he couldn’t. It was too late now, his feeling had been right, there was a storm after all.

 

Copyright 2016, House of Darkness Publishing, All Rights Reserved

The Tale of the Tree

Here is a short story I wrote a couple of years ago. Hope you enjoy it!

 

The Tale of the Tree

By James R. Colbert, Jr.

Lucas A. Kaine walked down the long, mahogany paneled hallway to see his Great-Grandfather who had insisted on speaking privately with him today, his thirteenth birthday. A grand party had been arranged and his Great-Grandfather seemed quite excited about it. He said he had a top-secret surprise for him. Lucas loved both secrets and surprises. Coming to the end of the hall, Lucas tapped on the heavy ornate door. He heard his Great-Grandfather’s voice acknowledge his knock and went inside. He could see the old man sitting in his wheelchair next to the enormous bay window and waved a greeting…

“Ah, Lucas. There you are. The guests should be arriving soon. Listen…I think I hear someone coming up the drive now; yes, I’m sure of it. Thirteen years old already! My how the years go by. I have a wonderful, secret surprise for you, dear boy. You have been given a true honor my great grandchild. Oh, this night will be most memorable for you. Tonight, another will be elevated to carry this service, this honor, for I can bear it no longer and you, dear Lucas, have been chosen. Come, sit here beside me so you will learn the great secret and know what power you will soon be granted. When I was chosen, I was also a young lad, much like yourself…a child who liked exploring the hidden places, a child who loved to know…secrets. I especially enjoyed the quiet, dark solitude of the old forest that borders our family home. The remnant of that once incredible forest still survives in its virgin, primordial state today on the Northeast corner of our land. Look, from my window here you can see that magnificent forest. See how it rises above that hillside?
What’s that, child? Yes, yes, that’s what the townsfolk call it: “The Ghost Woods.” They are little better than ignorant peasants! Even when I was young they referred to our precious forest in such a crude fashion. Its reputation for being a danger is not wholly undeserved. Scores have sought out its soothing, cool, dark places to end their depressing little lives over the years. Many other people have been hopelessly lost within those ancient grounds over the centuries and most have not survived. The bodies are rarely recovered. It is said that the ghosts of all the past victims take them away, but it is not ghosts that they should fear. The few uninitiated that have dared to enter our sacred forest and managed to survive have come back with wild-eyed tales and typically, end up confined to an institution for their remaining years. For us, though, my dear child, our forest holds and shields a promise of a future beyond anything we’ve known, a future that we are an important part of. Tonight you will behold such wonders! But enough of all that, I wish to tell you now an important part of our family’s history. It is critical for you to know now that the great honor will be passed on to you…”

Lucas kept his “attentive face” turned on for his Great-Grandfather, but, truth be told, the talk was getting boring. He could hear the old man droning on, but paid little attention to what he was talking about. His Great-Grandfather seemed ignorant of the fact that he’d already gone exploring in those woods many times and never found the old forest overly scary. Actually, it was quite pleasant: dark, cool and quiet. A few years ago some of the older kids at his private school tried to tell him some of the old tales the townsfolk kept alive in an attempt to frighten him, but he did not frighten easily. In fact, Lucas could not think of a time when he’d ever been really frightened. The only thing the tales had accomplished was to compel him to go into the forest that very evening. He was actually disappointed when he didn’t see any ghosts that night. His Great-Grandfather’s image came back into sharp focus and Lucas noticed a look of agitation coming over the old man’s face.

“Lucas, are you listening to me? It is important to know where you come from child, so pay attention. Now, as I said before, I’m sure you are aware that our family line was among the earliest settlers of this region, planting down roots almost two centuries before the Declaration of Independence was written. Our direct ancestor, Thomas Kaine, who has blessed us with this magnificent legacy, arrived on the continent aboard the Godspeed in 1587. He was a member of the second Roanoke Colony. Thomas liked secrets too, like us. In fact, it was a secret that caused him to become a member of that venture. Exploring was not a new experience for Thomas. He’d already made a great voyage as a young boy to exotic locales; his stepfather was an investor in Sir Francis Drake’s circumnavigation in 1578 and Thomas served as a cabin boy aboard the Golden Hind, Drake’s own ship. It was during this voyage that Thomas happened upon a “seer,” a fortuneteller, in the West Indies that passed on a very important bit of information to Thomas. He told him that he could see Thomas was one of the chosen bloodline that served the great Giver of Knowledge and that he would travel across the sea to a new land, where he would begin his service. The seer told him to seek out a passage to new lands in the West and find the One Croatoan, he who would lead him to his destiny, a destiny that I share, as will you.
Of course, Thomas’s curiosity was piqued and he pressed the soothsayer for more, but that was all the old man would speak of it. It was then that Thomas determined he would keep a detailed diary and began to compose his memories and thoughts at the end of each day. This journal has been passed down from guardian to guardian and is now in my possession and after tonight, my sweet child, you will keep the sacred work for the next. All will be explained in greater detail tonight after the ceremony. Now, where was I…oh, yes, yes the voyage of the Golden Hind…”

Had he known this would turn out to be a history lesson Lucas would have tried a lot harder to have not bothered coming to the old man’s room. Great-Grandpa Kaine was fine to listen to in small doses, but this was getting to be too much. He remembered what his mother always told him: “Great-Grandpa Kaine still holds over seventy percent of the family trust in his name and he has not yet chosen his heir, so always be nice to him. You’re his favorite, Lucas so don’t screw it up!” What a pain she was sometimes. Okay, better tune back in before he notices.

“…So, when Drake’s ship returned to England successfully in 1580 Thomas was eager to find a passage to the New World and found it when Sir Walter Raleigh set out a second time for Roanoke. Once there he learned of the island of Croatoan and set his sights on traveling there as soon as possible. Within the year, Thomas found the opportunity and made his way to Croatoan. Upon his arrival, the natives recognized that he was there to complete the tribe’s role in fulfilling the prophecy of the old stories. He was someone they had been waiting for, someone their own tribal elders had had a vision of just weeks before. He was deferred to and treated as an honored guest. A ceremonial feast was arranged with huge bonfires, thundering drums, much-fermented drink and naked natives moving in a frenzied, heathen, decadent dance. Now, during the height of this bacchanal, a small leather bag was given to Thomas. He opened the bag and found a single seed. An ancient, withered man was carried on a litter over to where Thomas was seated and placed directly across from him. A young boy also took a seat next to the old man. The young boy introduced the ancient man as the tribe’s eldest shaman in surprisingly good English and also told Thomas that he was to serve as his interpreter. The old shaman began to speak and as the young boy translated, Thomas knew then he had found the One Croatoan…”

Lucas nodded as if he agreed and smiled at his Great-Grandfather, but really, what caught his interest was the talk of the wild party. Why not talk more about the naked natives? That and the drinks might have been fun, but if the old dude talking to Old Tom spoke like Great-Gramps is, that must have been like torture.

“…So, for many seasons, the tribe had waited for the coming of the Guardian and with his arrival, the prophecy was being fulfilled. The ancient, withered creature that now sat before Thomas told him of a time, eons in the past; a time when the earliest human tribes walked the lands when the earth was new. The first great Earth spirits caused a magnificent garden to form and embodied all knowledge of life and death, of good and evil, unto the One Great Tree. To eat of the fruit of the One Great Tree was to gain the knowledge of all things, but the tribe was not yet ready to learn such occult knowledge, so it was forbidden to them. The first woman of the tribe ate of the fruit before the One Great Tree had chosen who among them would be so honored and caused an imbalance within the order of things and so the garden was ever forbidden to the tribe as punishment. The imbalance caused strife within the tribe. One of the first chief’s sons, his first-born, struck out at his own brother in a jealous rage and caused his death. For this, he was forever banished from the tribe. As he was to begin his banishment his mother, who had tasted the fruit of the One Great Tree and learned of its awesome powers, gave him a parting gift. It was a single seed from the fruit of the One Great Tree. From that moment, the bloodline of the first chief’s first-born would serve as the guardians of the One Great Tree and its knowledge, spreading the progeny of the One to all places in the world…”

Wow, is that Grandpa Kaine’s old knife out on the dresser? He always keeps that hidden. At least, he thinks it’s hidden. That thing is mad cool! I hope he gives it to me as a present. I could scoop that right up. Gramps is looking out at his woods, he probably won’t even notice. Oh, it’s heavier than I thought. This black blade is way cool. Oh, crap, he turned around!

“…and so Luca…now what are you doing? Lucas, please stop fiddling with that! Now, pay attention, my child! This is important. You must listen carefully and learn. Thank you. Now, ah, oh yes, with that, the banished man left the first tribe and headed into the vast desert. After many weeks and months of wandering, the man felt suddenly compelled to plant the seed. The earth there was barren of life and dry, but his mind told him that this was the chosen spot. He dug madly at the hard ground with his bare hands and after clearing a hole of the right dimensions; he held the seed tightly in his cut and bleeding hands. He vowed to protect the tree as it grew and guard its secrets and location from any who would cause it harm. He planted the seed and immediately fell into a deep sleep. For thirteen days, the man slept and dreamed. In his dreams, the seed had already sprouted and broke through the earth that he’d covered it with. In his dreams, the tree spoke to him of service and sacrifice. When he awoke, he saw that the young tree had already grown to be as tall as a man. Its trunk was sturdy and strong; its roots gripped the hard earth with unyielding power. Nearby, water that was seeping up from the formerly dry and barren ground had formed a small pond and tender plants and grasses had begun to sprout where there had been none before. The One Great Tree would reward its servant well. His blood had bonded with the spirit of the One locked within the sacred seed, had given it the nourishment it required to awaken its consciousness fully. Now and for all time, he and his descendants would serve the One Great Tree…”

Lucas really wanted to get out now. His thoughts raced through his mind. So, does Gramps honestly think I can take this seriously? Magic seeds that suck up blood; trees that think? Next, it’ll be a beanstalk and a giant. I think I hear my mother calling for me.

“…Now, according to Thomas’s diaries, the old, wizened man produced a crude map fashioned upon a dried piece of leather. A spot was marked deep into the mainland to the west of the island of Croatoan. The elder explained to Thomas that a man who came from the sea had given the map to the tribal elders and told them to prepare for the arrival of the guardian that would help spread the power and knowledge of the One Great Tree that had been bestowed with all knowledge by the Great Earth Spirits at the dawn of creation. He stated that he, Thomas Kaine, was a direct blood descendent of the first guardian and that he now must follow the map to the chosen spot and plant the first seed of the One Great Tree in the new land. Thomas was given a choice of warriors to guide his expedition into the deep wilderness of the mainland. They were to obey and protect him unto death. He was also given his choice of the tribe’s most beautiful women to accompany him and be his companion who would assure the bloodline of Kaine continued in the new world. His party left for the mainland the next day…”

Lucas was actually now starting to listen more carefully to the tale his Great-Grandpa Kaine was telling. Now, this is getting interesting. Old Tom Kaine got his pick of the hottest girls? So, this guardian thing has some great perks. I wonder if Great-Grandpa Kaine got the same treatment? And that would be very cool to have people obey your every command. This story is turning out pretty cool after all. I hope there’s more stuff like this.

“…and so, after a period of several weeks, the party reached the area specified by the map and Thomas began to prepare for the planting. Since the time of the first guardian, the ceremony has been largely unchanged. First, the blood of the guardian must be mingled with the sacred seed before the seed is placed into the living earth. As I told you earlier, this both awakens the soul of the seed and bonds the two together, the One Great Tree and the guardian. The children of the One also adapt and change to the conditions of the region as they grow. They and the One are the same. The seed Thomas planted those centuries past has chosen the form of a mighty oak. It is magnificent to behold, child and tonight you will gaze upon it and know its power. I wish I had more time to explain everything, but you will learn all soon enough. Tonight, I will pass on to you several important artifacts: the diary of Thomas Kaine, The Sacred Book of Wisdom and the Dagger of Enoch.”

“Ah, I see that has caught your full attention, Lucas. Oh yes, these are just some of the secrets you’ll learn tonight, my dear child. This book, the only one in existence, contains all the knowledge gained by our long line of guardians, ever since the first. All the ceremonies, and rituals needed to nurture the One Great Tree’s children to maturity. And that dagger you are so enamored with is very special. It also is the only one in existence. It cannot be duplicated; it was forged only because of the knowledge of the One. Its obsidian blade will never lose its razor edge. The handle of the dagger is formed from a branch of the One’s first offspring. This precious wood is bonded for eternity with the One and its progeny. It is a most powerful talisman and a critical tool of the guardian. You are so very fortunate, my dear child, for you will be honored with the sacred seed during your service as guardian. The highest honor a guardian can perform is to plant a new offspring of the One. You see, once the seed of a new child of the One Great Tree has become fused with the Guardian through blood and spirit and placed within the womb of the Earth, it seeks to bond with the One. Once the joining is complete, the tree will offer a single seed to a new guardian so that he may plant the seed in a new location and spread the power of the One. There is no higher calling. As the numbers of the One Great Tree’s offspring grow and extend over the whole of the Earth, so too will its knowledge and power over all things. The One will reward loyalty and I can assure you that The House of Kaine will be at the side of the One when it ascends to its rightful place among the old gods. You well may become the first New Man, my child and ascend into perfection! Legions will bend their knee to you. The One will give you dominance over the whole Earth; the common rabble and the titans of society alike will cower before you and the House of Kaine! Lucas Kaine, I name you my heir. After tonight, all will pass on to you.”

Lucas stood caught a bit off guard. His mind working to sort out what he’d just been told. Well, I guess my little visits have paid off. Wow, that’d be cool. Being in charge of everything…but I think Great-Grandpa Kaine forgot his meds today. God, what if this is for real, though? I’d be able to make everyone do what I want then. The jerks at school, they’d find out real fast not to push me around anymore. This story ended up being way more interesting than I first thought. I could be like a king with all this.

“Well, my boy, I’ve said quite enough now, haven’t I? I hope I haven’t frightened you with all this at once, but you must know what your destiny is to be. Tonight, we will perform the changing ceremony at the base of the Great Oak and your path will become clear. I suppose I’d better let you go now so you can ready yourself for your birthday party, shouldn’t I? I don’t want anyone, especially your mother, to start to worry about you. Tell no one of these things I have spoken to you about, it is knowledge meant only for the chosen. It is our secret. You have so much ahead of you, Lucas. Now, run along I will send for you when the hour approaches later tonight. I’m so proud of you, Lucas. Out you go now.”

Lucas looked back at his Great-Grandfather as he reached for the door to leave and smiled. He opened the heavy wooden door and walked back out into the hallway. He felt no fear: just a sense of excitement. Lucas began to consider that maybe there really was something to this “magic tree” thing after all. He’d seen the tree once before in his exploring and it was huge and spooky looking, well over one hundred feet tall, probably twenty-five, maybe even thirty feet in diameter. Besides, if Great-Grandpa Kaine believed it, then he could too, especially if meant naming him as heir. Once he was officially named heir he, Lucas Kaine, would be able to command people, make them do what he wanted to do, make them grovel. Oh, some things will change then! He went downstairs and out onto the front porch and looked toward the dark forested area of the old Kaine estate. Since holding the dagger, he felt himself drawn to gaze upon that part of the property. He felt attuned to an ancient, concealed power, a thirst for secret knowledge and a desire to control all things. Lucas held his arms out, away from his sides, closed his eyes and thought about people bowing down before him. His lips curled into a wicked smile. This turned out to be the best birthday ever!

 

Copyright 2016, House of Darkness Publishing, All Rights Reserved

Let me introduce to you House of Darkness Publishing

Hello! This is the start of a new adventure for both myself and all of you! I will be putting up some short stories I’ve composed very soon so be on the lookout for these. There is also a special project I am involved in, a serialized novel, Ageless that is currently being written. Should be fun! I also have a novel, Sam’s Story by James Colbert currently available on Kindle (Only $2.99!) I think you’d all like it. Check it out and check us out right here very soon. Lots more to come. Thanks!