Ageless, A Serial Novel, Ch. 12

2

 

And here it is, Chapter 12 of Ageless! This is the last part of, Book One, Lazarus. We hope you have enjoyed the story so far! Please let us know your thoughts about Ageless. look for much more coming soon!

 

Ageless
By James R. Colbert, Jr. and David R. Smith
Book One: Lazarus
Chapter 12
The first thought Lucy had when he saw Darin West was: I’m getting too old for this shit. She didn’t say it aloud, but instead pushed a soft smile to her lips, slid off the wagon, and came resolutely around to the man she’d been looking for and courteously extended her right hand beaming with forced amiability.
They shook.
“Darin West?” Lucy asked. She managed to make her query sound pleasant.
“That’s right,” the old man replied. “But most people just call me D.W.” He then winked flirtatiously. “You can too, if you share my dislike for needless formality.”
The look on his scruffy, overly-confident face showed that he considered the matter settled, and from the tone of his voice Lucy could tell that in West’s opinion everything would be agreeably cooperative right from the start.
“What can I do for you, little lady?” West asked, ignoring the too-friendly overture he unassumingly projected.
Fear touched at Lucy’s chest as she began to sweat. The manner in which West moved about, acting almost as if he owned the station, seemed he were measuring her up for size.
“My name is Lucy Haverling.” She answered blithely, her hands in her pockets. Eagerly, she examined the voluminous crowd lining the nearby wall waiting to trade with the station’s patrol as she spoke. “I’m an electrician working my way south – towards the southern tier. I was told you might be able to offer me some assistance.”
“Is that right?” West scrutinized the girl for a moment, and then turned his attention to the station’s patrol. “Good with electronics, I suppose.”
“Yes. In fact, quite good.” Lucy regarded him steadily. For all she knew West’s preoccupation with the crowd was simply a rouse.
“Is that your private opinion?” West met her gaze guilelessly.
“Private and public.” She retorted. “The gov’s pleased with my work.” She then quickly added, “As pleased as the slavers could be.” Lucy winced, but outwardly remained impassive. It cost her an effort, though. She wondered what West really thought. What was actually going on inside that skull of his? The old man seemed disturbingly clever. West was definitely nobody’s fool.
“That’s pretty much my understanding, too,” West replied. “I mean, about the government and all.”
West looked Lucy over. “I’m under no compulsion to hire. Mostly, I travel alone.” He spit on the ground. “Mostly.” Lucy nodded, her expression still guileless.
“Of course.” West continued, and with an effort Lucy cooled down a trifle. “I am headed out that way and could possibly use your services.”
A grin burst across Lucy’s face, real this time and completely unforced. “Hey, you’re the boss. What you say goes.”
“You would be working for your fare, let’s just get that straight.” As they talked they began to walk along the busy, yellow-lit tiers of the station’s offices. “I presume you have already taken that much for granted.”
“Yes, sir,” Lucy replied.
They had come to the edge of the station and were now looking out across the lake. To the left of them rose impressive banks of equipment – machinery of every shape and size, metal bands, and bundles of wiring. West studied it as though it was the precisely reason he came there.  For the first time, West’s face lost its breezy confidence. A sick, dismayed expression crept into his eyes, a mixture of shame and moral shock. “That’s not — pleasant,” he murmured under his breathe. “I didn’t realize they were so-” He groped in his mind for the right word, gesticulating. “-prepared.”
“What’s the matter?” Lucy asked curiously.
“Nothing,” he muttered. “Nothing at all.”
Darin West tossed the solemn expression aside and turned rigidly to face Lucy. “We leave first thing in the morning.”
*Copyright 2016, House of Darkness Publishing, All Rights Reserved

Ageless, A serial Novel, Ch. 11

2

The story continues! This week, Chapter 11 of Ageless!

 

Ageless
Book One, Lazarus
Chapter 11

Kyle Moss, Records Clerk 2nd Class (RC2C), wasn’t very happy. He was supposed to compile everything in the old, moldering files from the dank, crumbling, nearly forgotten restricted section. Virtually all of the files he was assigned to retrieve were either handwritten or typed out on paper. The damn things probably haven’t been looked at since who-knows-when and probably contain nothing of any use to anyone today. They stunk with the unmistakable odor of mold and decay. Much of the paper was stuck together and all but impossible to separate without ruining them. And guess who got assigned to go through it, him!

“This is bullshit!” Kyle said aloud to himself. “This is what a level 3 clearance gets you? I should be doing something more important, not stuck down here in this stinkin’ dungeon!”

He had been told this was a priority assignment but when he found out what he was supposed to do, he thought there had to be a mistake. What possible information could be a priority down here? The rumor was that Colonel Janus himself wanted these files put together and brought to him asap but Kyle found that hard to believe. What would the head of SOG6 want these old files for? Then again, Johnny Scanlon, his friend over in the com division, had told him last week, before he even got assigned to this crap, that his brother told him about a special operator that was supposed to be infiltrating some outland settlement. They were trying to take out some rebel leader, or something like that. Scan’s brother was a Lieutenant First Class in the Internal Security Branch for Region 23, so Kyle figured there had to be some truth to the rumor but he still couldn’t imagine what Colonel Janus would want with these moldy, nasty, old files. Although Kyle wasn’t supposed to actually read any of the material, just sort by file number and ensure any seals were intact and re-seal as needed, he did glance over a couple of the broken seal files…just to make sure there was no damage he’d be blamed for.

The little he did read mentioned some doctor named L. Stewart who lived before the war for chrissakes, and something about the plague. He also noticed that every file was stamped Level 5, one of the really old security codes used before the war. He knew this was only used for files meant to be seen by only a handful of the most senior people. Kyle sure didn’t understand what the top brass would want with such old crap but he did know enough to realize his ass was toast if anyone suspected him of actually reading any of them.

Kyle closed up the file as though it contained a nest of vipers and after carefully ensuring everything was in order, resealed the file. It looked as good as new.

There, no one will ever know. Kyle thought to himself. I sure don’t want Colonel Janus coming down on me.

Kyle didn’t even want to know what would happen to him if that bastard found out he’d looked at these. Kyle now just wanted to finish up as quickly as possible and quickened his pace. Within the hour, everything was complete and properly packed for transport to SOG6 headquarters. Two hours after that Kyle was at his usual table at Saints and Sinners Entertainment Club trying his best to forget all about his day. The beat of the music, the cold vodka tonic and the dancer in front of his table were all helping out immensely.

Copyright 2016, House of Darkness Publishing, All Rights Reserved

 

 

Random Thoughts, Wage Slave

skull-1205430_1920

 

Is the growing distance between the “haves” and “have-nots” a problem? I think it is. Now I’m not talking about the chronically unemployed, substance abuser who is constantly trying to get onto the latest and greatest government program. I’m talking about the normal, everyday working person who’s wages have been stagnant (at best) or have actually lost ground over the past twenty years. Is the solution to have some government “officials” take from the “rich” and redistribute to the poor? Should some government minion be determining a “minimum” wage? I would say not. For many, many years the traditional “gap” in earnings averaged in at approximately 20 times more. In other words, the highest paid people in an organization earned 20 times more than the lowest-paid echelon in the workforce. Today that difference is much higher, sometimes 100, 200, or even more times difference in compensation. Such disparity can only end one way, in resentment and desperation for the “have-nots.” Employers almost universally reject the latest “minimum wage” proposals and they do have a point…to a point. The last thing anyone should desire is to have the government get more involved but if this “wealth gap” continues to widen, and it certainly seems that it will keep trending in that direction, there will be ever louder demands for someone to do something and the “controllists” in power will gladly oblige. Business owners and top level management would do themselves well to steer back toward that tried and true 20 times earnings differentiation. The well-off are not helping themselves by continuing this self-destructive race for an ever greater slice of the pie. One can’t help but observe that these same people certainly appear to have all the money they “need” to pursue their own wants; boats, second homes, vacations, new cars (at the high end of the price scale, by the way), and many other accouterments that blatantly broadcast their “success.” All the while these very same people seem to incessantly complain about how hard they have it and how difficult it is to make ends meet. That they really don’t make very much money…except the empirical evidence contradicts that narrative. Business owners and top level management constantly attempt to cut “costs” like employee’s wages and so-called “benefits” (you know those things you pay more for every year and get less use out of like health insurance for example) while at the very same time padding their own pockets with bonuses the size of most of their employees annual wages, separate (and far superior) benefit packages, and other perks normal, “regular” employees will NEVER have access to. What used to be the land of opportunity is fast becoming the land of opportunists who will trample anyone who stands in the way of personal enrichment. The destructive gospel of profit above all else is corrosive and dangerous to a free and prosperous world. The way that had been open for so many to improve their lot in life is rapidly closing with only a select few holding the bulk of the wealth of the whole world. A recipe for unimaginable catastrophe is being prepared and unless we all work together to renew the promise of an actual land of opportunity, humanity will be set back a thousand years. We must act to get the government out of our lives to the greatest extent possible (both personally and in business life), retool the “profit first” thought process of the business owner(s) and top management; while making a profit is an important thing, it is simply not the only thing. Continuing down our current path is folly and will bring about our own demise. Until next time…

 

 

Ageless, A Serial Novel Ch. 10

2

And now, Chapter 10

 

Ageless
Book One, Lazarus
Chapter 10

“So, I think we have a deal.” Lyle reached out to shake the young man’s hand.

The Poultryman took Lyle’s offered hand. “Yessir, I will bring these birds out to you in a couple of days. They should lay plenty of eggs for ya’ this line has done good by us here.”

“I’m sure they will. See you then.” Lyle started to move toward the large, open barn door when he heard someone call out for him. A woman’s voice, by the sound of it.

“Doc Lyle, hey, Doctor Lyle!”

Lyle turned toward the sound of the voice. It was a woman, he tried to place the face, ah, yes Mrs. Westahoff, ah…ah, Corrine, that’s her name, Lyle thought to himself.

“Why, hello Mrs, Westahoff, I hope all is well with you?”

“Oh, I’m doing pretty good, Doctor Lyle. And please, call me Corrine. Actually, I was going to send word out to you today to see if you could make a house call.”

Lyle couldn’t help letting his surprise show at this announcement. “Really? Are you sure everything is okay?” He rarely got any visitors besides Darin West, and someone requesting his presence usually meant there was some type of medical issue, typically something serious.

“Well, yes everything is fine, except my son, Arlen has this cough that concerns me. It seemed better this morning, but he seems a bit run down as well. Since you are here do you think it possible to stop in and check on him?”

Lyle thought for a beat. “I certainly can, Mrs. Westa…I mean, Corrine. I didn’t bring any of my equipment with me, I was just planning on trading for some new layers, but I’d be more than happy to check on him.”

“Oh, thank you, Doc! I’m sure it’s just a bad cold but I am a bit worried.”

“It is no problem, Corrine. I might as well go right now if that would be okay? I would like to get back to my little abode by nightfall and it does take some time to walk back.”

“Yes, yes, now is just fine. I will walk with you to our shelter.” As Corrine said this, she hoped she had not been to forward. “That’s if you don’t mind.”

“Oh, no, no, I don’t mind at all! In fact, it would be better if you did accompany me so I can get some more of the details about Arlen’s condition. How is he doing anyway? I know the loss of a limb is always a difficult challenge, especially for a young active boy like your son. He’s adjusting well?”

Corrine thought for a moment. “I’d say he has accepted what has happened. He now does nearly as much as he did when he was still whole.”
“That’s good to hear.” Corrine and Lyle began to head toward the door. The Westahoff place was about two miles from the barn complex. As they began walking down the well-worn roadway, Corrine tried to tell Lyle about her son’s cough that was worrying her.

“So, he has had this cough for almost a whole week now, he is worn down, and his appetite is not as it should be,” Corrine told the doctor.

“Any fever? Sore throat? Painful joints?” Lyle inquired.

“He does seem a bit warm and yesterday he did mention that his throat was hurting him.”

“Mmmm. Have you felt any of these symptoms yourself, Corrine?”

“Oh, no, I feel quite well. It’s not like Arlen is bedridden, I am just worried. Ever since the accident I, I…I just don’t want anything else to happen.”

“I quite understand that, Corrine. I didn’t mean to dredge up that terrible day. Please, forgive me.”

“It’s quite all right, Doc Lyle. Nothing is given to us that doesn’t make us better for it. Arlen will be stronger because of his trials. As will I. Well, we are nearly there already! Our shelter is just around the bend ahead.”

“Yes, I remember that large oak, your home is just past it. Isn’t it amazing to think about, how long that tree has stood there? Why I bet it’s been there since before the war.”

Corrine looked at the giant, gnarled oak tree. “It certainly is old and big. I’d say that is a good estimate. You know something of trees? You are a man of many talents.”

“They have long fascinated me,” Lyle replied. He stopped and admired the massive oak, his thoughts reaching back in the distant past. He did know something about trees, especially this old-timer. He didn’t tell Corrine that he and his wife had often camped in this region long before the “Great Troubles” and had actually planted this tree. They had planned on buying the property, a place to retire to, and had planted the tree there as a promise to the land (and themselves) that they would be there for the long term. Fate had something else in mind and interfered with those plans. Lyle looked at the tree almost overwhelmed by the memories, suddenly he saw the image of a person, a woman.

“Janice? Janice…is that really you?” Lyle called out his wife’s name and fell to his knees, so powerful were his emotions. He could hear a woman’s voice calling out to him. It sounded familiar.

“Doctor! Lyle…are you, all right? It’s Corrine, Corrine Westahoff. Please, Lyle, snap out of it. Can you hear me?”

Lyle felt his vision narrow and he almost blacked out but was able to hold on. He did not expect such a reaction to seeing the tree. He regained his wits quickly enough and recognized the woman speaking was Corrine and not his long dead Janice.
“I’m okay, I’m okay,” he managed. Let me just sit here a moment.”

“Yes, you relax for a few minutes. Are you sure you’re all right? It looked like you saw a ghost.”

“I think I may be a bit dehydrated, perhaps some water once we get to your home will help. I gave myself a bit of a scare, and it looks like I gave you one as well, please forgive me.”

“You’ve done nothing that requires my forgiveness, Lyle. Are you certain you feel like continuing on foot? I can go and fetch our small cart if you need it.”

“That will not be necessary, Corrine. I am certain I am fine, just some water once we reach your home.”

“Let me help you up, Lyle.” Corrine took Lyle’s hand and helped him to his feet. She held his hand for a moment longer. “I hope you don’t mind me calling you, Lyle, do you?”

“No, no, of course, not.” Lyle gently pulled his hand away. “Well, now that is over with.” The two of them looked into one another’s eyes for a few more lingering seconds. Lyle broke the silence. “We’d better move along and check on your son, Corrine.”

“Yes, yes, we’d better. Are you quite sure you’ll be okay?”

“Yes, I’m fine. Just a bit of dehydration, that’s all.
“Okay, we’ll just go slow. It’s only about another 1/10 mile or so.”

“Yes, that will be no problem, Corrine.”

The two of them finished the short walk and Lyle felt almost back to normal by the time they reached the door. They entered and Corrine directly drew a pitcher of water and poured two glasses full offering one to Lyle, who gladly accepted. They drained the glasses and went to check on Arlen who was sitting in his room, reading.

“Oh, hello mother! I didn’t expect you for a while yet. I have not begun preparing the evening meal but I can start now. Is that Doc Lyle with you”

“Yes, it’s me, Arlen,” Lyle answered. “Your mother wanted me to come by and check on you. How do you feel? She tells me you’ve had a bad cough?”

As if on cue Arlen coughed just then. It was a wet sounding, croupy sound.

“I’d say that is quite a cough.” Lyle moved closer to Arlen’s side. “Do you feel achy, sore? She tells me you’ve been feeling tired as well.”

“My neck sometimes feels sore, not like a sore throat, like my muscles hurt.”

“Mmm.” Lyle turned to Corrine. “Has Arlen had any contact with anyone who was also feeling this way recently. You’re sure you have not experienced any of these symptoms?”

“No, I really do feel just fine. Arlen did work with a Lone Wolf who was here a few days ago. He was just a bit older than Arlen and came in to barter for a few items. He and Arlen spent much of a day together. Why do you ask? Is it important?”

“Maybe.” Lyle looked once more at the boy in front of him. “Arlen, would you mind removing your shirt for a moment?”

“No.” Arlen pulled off his shirt and coughed a bit.

“Mmm.” Lyle could see some swelling in the area of the lymph glands under Arlen’s arm. An almost certain indicator of the first stage of a strain of the plague he was quite familiar with. He did not want to alarm either Arlen or Corrine. “I may have something to help back at my home. I will be back tomorrow with some equipment I’ll need. Just keep doing what you’re doing and I’ll see you in the morning.”

Lyle indicated that Arlen could put his shirt back on and bid him a good afternoon. He and Corrine moved away out of earshot.

“Is it something serious, Lyle?” Corrine looked worried.

“I’m not sure yet, Corrine. I’ll know more tomorrow. I do have some medicine I’ve made that I think will help but it’s still in the test stage so we’ll have to go slow. Do you know if the Lone Wolf contacted others here in NewGreen?”

“Well, I know he spoke with Darin West for some time, and maybe some of the Growers. Do you think Arlen caught something from him? I know Mister West and him were talking about those “Holy Rollers” that come in with their dancing and loud rhythms and other temptations, maybe he put a hex on Arlen. One should not defy the Great Mother and Father! I will offer my prayers for healing.”

“That would be fine, Corrine. Keep Arlen resting and I’ll be back tomorrow.”

“I’ll do that, Lyle. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers as well. Until tomorrow then?” Corrine reached out and lightly gripped Lyle’s hand.

Lyle smiled and placed his other hand over hers, squeezing gently. “Yes. I’ll see you both tomorrow. Good day, Corrine, thanks for the company. I, I’ll…be here in the morning.” They stood for a moment or two, neither one of them quite sure of what to say or what they were feeling, both knowing the time was not right for them. Their hands relaxed, then released. Lyle nodded slightly and walked out the door, heading back to his lab. He hoped he had enough of the serum he’d been working on. It could be Arlen’s only hope. The only other avenue Lyle could think of was the fact that the Holy Rollers would be in town in a day or two. He knew Corrine did not approve of the Rollers but Lyle was certain that their special tonic held the key to a cure for the plague and it looked like they were going to show up just at the right time. He also hoped Corrine’s prayers would add some positive effect. If the Lone Wolf did introduce plague into NewGreen they’d need all the help they could get.
Copyright 2016, House of Darkness Publishing, All Rights Reserved