Category Archives: action

The Teacher – Part 2

THE TEACHER – PART 2

 

She held my hand as I drove down the main street.  Her mahogany brown eyes shifted to a light brown color as the sunlight shone into her face through the passenger side window.  “Seriously baby,” she flicked her hands through her hair as she stared curiously into the visor’s mirror.  “Do you like it?  I think she cut it waay too short.  I mean, look at it.”

She turned her head to the side.  I glanced at her with my face scrunched up like an old man sucking on a lemon, “well… now that you mention it…”

She pouted, “see, I knew it!  Ugh!”  Her arms folded over her chest like a napkin as she poked her bottom lip out.  Her pulchritude was unmatched, even in her childish display.  “Turn around!  We are going back!”

I stifled my laugh as she sat in her seat.  Her eyes narrowed in my direction.  I couldn’t keep up the charade any longer as I blurted out a sea of laughter like waves crashing into the shore.  “Baby, you know I am only kidding.  Your hair is lovely, sweetheart.  I like the short haircut.  You’ve got like…” I quickly looked in her direction, then refocused on the road, “a Halle Berry type thing going on.  And you know how much I love Halle.”

“Gee, thanks.  I’m glad that my haircut reminds me of my husband’s crush.”

“Baby,” I said, smiling as I reached for her hand, “if Halle were on the side of the road right now, I wouldn’t stop for one second.”  She pushed her lips to the side of her mouth as if to show that she didn’t believe me.  “Alright.  Maybe I would ask what was wrong, but that’s it.”

“Yeah, that better be it.”

I looked in the rearview mirror.  My son sat in his toddler seat as he flew a toy airplane through the air, blowing his lips to mimic the sound of a jet engine.  “Jr, who are we picking?  Mommy or Halle?”

“Mommy!” he shouted forth with a snaggle-toothed smile.  His mother’s feminine features dominated his young, bright face.  With each blink, long eyelashes fluttered like butterfly wings on the edge of his eyelids.  A tiny cluster of beauty marks gathered together on his right cheek, and the natural arch of his brows looked as though they were professionally done.  The only features he received from me was my broad, flat nose and full lips.  He had my attitude wrapped up in the softness of his mother’s countenance; and for that, he would know how to get away with murder.

“See,” I said confidently, “there are two votes for mommy.  None for Halle.”

“Yeah, you two will say anything while I am in the car with you.”

“You know what?”  I wrestled the phone out of my pocket, “that’s it.  I’m going to snap a picture of you right now and–”

She laughed as I pulled my phone out and aimed it in her direction.  “Baby, keep your eyes on the road!  You are going to wreck!”  She lightheartedly pushed my phone away from her.

My son increased the volume of his jet engines, “vroooom, vroom!”

“Babe!  Stop, now.  You need to keep your eyes ahead!”

I glanced out the windshield.  “Baby, there is not a car anywhere near us, and besides, I have eyes all over my head.  Now, let me take this picture so I can post it on Facebook and let everyone else be the judge between you and Halle.”

“No!  Listen, I’ll take your word for it!  I won!  I look better than Halle, ok?  No pictures needed.  Now, would you please keep your eye on the road?  Please?”

I winked at her, then slid my phone in the compartment between the two front seats.  “Alright.  As long as I got my point across.”  We eased to a stop at a red light.  She grabbed my hand and leaned across my seat.  Moments later, I felt her lips brush against my flesh like a soft spring breeze.  “I love you, Mr. Jones.”

“I love you more, Mrs. Jones.”

The light just beyond us flickered from red to green.  I glanced at Junior in the backseat.  His airplane flew high in his right hand while he grabbed another fighter jet with the other.  “Baby,” my wife said as I slid my foot onto the gas.  Her hand moved to her belly at the same time, patiently, as if time was controlled by her motion.  “I think I am pregnant.”

I chuckled as our car inched into the intersection slowly like we were pulling a ton of bricks behind us.  “Well,” I looked in her direction.  Just beyond her window, an SUV headed straight for us like a flaming dart from the pit of hell.  My eyes widened as if I was trying to see the whole world at once.  My words caught in my throat like a piece of meat going down the windpipe.  I reached for her arm, knowing that I had to pull her away from the point of contact.  “My God!”

I yelled out, but before she could react, the SUV plowed into her side of the vehicle.  Instantly, I blacked out.

———-

I woke up in sweltering, pitch-black darkness.  Sweat mingled blood dripped from my brow as my chin brushed against the top of my chest.  My hands were tied behind my back, and I could feel the wires slicing through my wrists.  My body weight shifted the position of the uneven chair I sat in.  “Rise and shine.”  His voice was deep and fragile as the heart of man.  His wooden cane knocked against the concrete floor as he stepped closer to me.  “Take that off his head.”

Moments later, one of his soldiers removed the dark hood from over my skull.  I squinted my eyes as the high voltage light bulbs lit the room a fluorescent white as if I was on the outskirts of heaven.  But I knew this was nothing like heaven and every bit like hell.  On the ground to the right, blood splatter decorated the concrete like exploded paintballs.  Various soldiers lined the walls, dressed in fatigues with their fingers sitting on triggers of automatic rifles aimed directly at me.  Black masks covered their faces as if they were scared to show me who they were.

Suddenly, a cold, hard fist smashed into my cheek with the weight of a bag of bricks.  Two more shots connected to my jaw in rapid succession.  The contact shot my face to the left and sent a spring of blood bubbling in my mouth like a fountain.  I spat out a thick glob of blood-soaked saliva.  It dripped slowly from my mouth like a molasses chain watch before it burst onto the cement.  I used my tongue to taste the residue.  It let me know that I was still alive.

“So, here we are.  This is what happens to degenerate leaders, Mr. Isaiah Jones?”  The man with the wooden cane planted himself in a silver folding chair that was positioned right in front of me.  With my head down, I slowly lifted my eyes towards him.

I spoke with every bit of resilience that I possessed.  I had been in situations like this before, and there wasn’t a time that I hadn’t made it out.  “Where is Seven?”

“Seven?”  He laughed.  “He wants to know where Seven is at.  His precious protégé.  The one that would rather die with you than fight with us.”  He clapped his hands once.  “Look up,” he said, smacking my thigh with his cane.  I gradually shifted my attention to the right.  The bright light beamed down onto me like I was center stage.  I waited a few moments until my eyes adjusted.

A thick glass window showed the inside of the adjacent room.  I squinted my eyes to get a better look.  I saw the faint image of a body swaying back and forth like strange fruit from a pole.  My cheekbones gyrated inside of my mouth.  My fist tightened like knots.  “Seven?” he laughed.  “Yeah, we had to teach that boy a lesson.  Turns out, he wasn’t as much of a killer as you expected.”  He leaned closer towards me.  The scent of Cuban cigars nicked at my muzzle.  “Guess you didn’t train him as good as you thought.”

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The Teacher – Part 1

The Teacher – Part 1

 

His face was hard and cold like brick walls in the winter time.  I could tell he wanted to cry, but his soul had his tears frozen in their ducts.  A thick, luminous ray of moonlight shot through the window and highlighted the faint scar that ran from the bottom of his eye to the corner of his lips.  It protruded just above his skin like a caterpillar crawling along a tree branch.  My mind drifted away as it transfigured my younger face onto his body.  He had too much of his life ahead of him.

We sat on the couch; our knees brushed against each other like a paintbrush on a canvas.  His passionate gaze burned like a fiery meteor leaving a dragon tail across the night sky on its way to annihilate the earth.  His jawbones gyrated inside of his mouth like factory gears, displaying traits of the machine I trained him to be.  His fingers interlocked patiently, forming a semi-circle on his lap.  “You know you can leave,” I said, piercing through the silence between us.

My suggestion seemed to inflame him even more.  “I’m not going anywhere.”  I made a trap door beneath the couch in the living room.  It led through a burrowed tunnel, three miles east of my home amid tall, forest trees.  It would spit him out on the edge of Lake Tiache’ where he could hop into a speedboat and get away undetected as if he was never with me.  But he was stubborn.  He was my best soldier, and he said that he would go to the grave with me if it were necessary.  It was the type of loyalty that Jesus didn’t see in the hours before his arrest.

I exhaled.  The wind left my lungs with a thick sense of anticipation just as tiny flickers of light blinked outside like a swarm of fireflies.  Their black foot helicopter was silent, but I still knew it was just miles away.  Leaves crunched as men scurried around the sides of my house.  I had trained myself for times like this.  I could hear the slightest shift in the movement outside if I sat in complete silence, and right now, I was clothed in it.  They were trained better than that, I thought to myself.  It had to be their nervousness.  There wasn’t a man coming for me that I hadn’t taught how to kill.  Flawlessly.

I fixed my eyes on the young man beside me; his nostrils flared like tiny umbrellas.  His eyes widened like dinner plates as he tilted his brow forward as if it was weighted down.  His interlocked hands slowly released and formed boulder-like fists at the end of his arms.  His veins puffed up in his forearms as if he had just taken a shot of heroin.  Adrenaline worked the same.  “Everything is going to be fine,” I said as we waited in silence.  “Just don’t breathe the air.”

He didn’t respond.  Out of all my soldiers, he was the one who stayed glued to me like a disciple.  It wasn’t long that I realized he had slid me into the place that his father had never touched.  There was a bond between us, and although we never spoke the words, love flowed through us like rivers of forgiveness.  “I will kill them all,” he said in a voice that would have shaken the smile from a stone-faced statue.  His passion soaked words marched around the house like Goliaths in full armor.

I could’ve run.  All of this could’ve been avoided, but I was tired of running just to escape, only to have to run again.  I was tired of fighting, using my self-control to strike the men I trained, but not kill them.  If I wanted to, I could have ended their lives.  Every one of them that came for me.  Specs of dust fluttered along the moon’s glow, leading to a picture of my wife.  Her buoyant smile is what kept me afloat during the times I was too tired to pick myself up off the ground.  I couldn’t wait to hold her again, but I knew there was too much work left undone for me to meet her.

My five-year-old son sat beside her.  His snaggle-toothed smile was the most beautiful blemish I’d ever seen.  Fifteen years had passed since the accident, and the surgical scar on my chest was the painful reminder of the day I found out they were both gone.  The lone picture in the front room was all I had left of them.  The memories locked inside of my mind kept me from needing tangible reminders of how much they meant to me.

The footsteps outside moved in closer.  Shadows scurried past the windows like demons as the propellers sliced through the wind like a hot knife through butter.  I heard it all.  Every last thing.  The sounds on the roof proved that these troops lacked discipline.  Their anxiety got the best of them.  The meekness of my heart allowed me to remove all the traps and triggers that would have ripped the first string of men into pieces.

“They don’t have to die,” I suggested.

“They do.  They will die.  Each and every last one of them will die for this treachery.  I will make sure of it.”

His dark skin shone from his body like an oil-polluted African river full of blood diamonds.  I wanted to temper his aggression, but there was no need.  He knew that he could attack, but he could not kill.  Not them.  Not his brothers.  “Are you ready?” I asked while the men outside took their positions.  “They are coming in.”

“I’m ready.”

“Remember what I said.  Just don’t breathe the air and everything will be ok.”

Breeze Rawlons((The Beginning)) Pt 1.

Bumpy and Hush had been close friends since High School.  They were sort of outcasts to the rest of the school because of their appearance, so they gradually transitioned into loners.  Bumpy got his name because of the inexorable amount of acne that was plastered on both of his cheeks and his forehead.  It was a bizarre sight to look at, and you were bound to lose your appetite if he sat near you at the lunch table.

Hush was a step up from him appearance wise, though.  He had Alopecia Areata, and because of that, he wasn’t able to grow any facial hair.  The spot where his eyebrows were meant to be were completely bald, and he didn’t have an ounce of hair above his lip like most of the other boys in our grade.  But that wasn’t it; the reason everybody called him, “Hush,” was because he wasn’t able to bring his voice above a whisper.  Nobody why he spoke with such a low volume and as far as we could tell, it wasn’t due to another medical condition.  It was just that he hated talking too loud.

I watched them from a distance, and they always kept to themselves and accepted the fact that they were outcasts.  In my opinion, between the two of them, Bumpy had the hardest time with it.  He was much more of an extrovert than his counterpart, but Hush?  He had no complaints about it at all.  It fit his demeanor entirely.  Quiet.  Sneaky.  Always thinking.  I would’ve given a week’s worth of lunch food to know what was going through his mind, but by the way he looked at everyone, it didn’t seem like it was anything that could’ve been spoken out loud.  His glare, the way his cheekbones gyrated whenever somebody disrespected him.  He just had an eerie vibe about him; a reclusive personality mixed with a short temper and that was never a good combination.   It was blatantly clear that he was headed for a life of crime.  Sometimes, that life has a way of choosing you, no matter what your will is.

I glanced down at the murder scene; one man was beaten senseless to the point that he was hardly recognizable.  His face was smashed in and bloodied; cheekbones were broken as well as every other bone that would have kept his countenance in place.  His fingers were chopped off, making it much more challenging to identify the victim.  This was all at the hands of Hush, and I knew it, even though there was no evidence pointing to him, I knew his calling card.  Once he wanted to get rid of you, his aim was to get rid of you and make it seem as if you never existed.  That way, whenever we were fortunate enough to find a body, there was nearly no way to identify who he was for sure.  He even went as far as knocking each and every last one of his victim’s teeth out to keep us from checking it against dental records.

I glanced down at the bloody, pulp of flesh smeared into the ground as another detective bent down next to me.  “They really did a number on this guy, aye?”

I took a puff of my cigarette and blew the smoke into the night air.  It fluttered around us like a cloud before it disappeared, “Yeah.  No doubt about it.”

“Any clues?”

“None.  None that I can think of.”

“Sheesh.  This is the third body we have found like this in the past two weeks.  I’ll tell you what, we better find something here, or else, heads in the department will start rolling.  After that, it will be better if one of us are one of these dead men that are popping up around the city.”

He tapped me on my shoulder and then stood up to walk back towards the other police officers.  I blew another cloud of smoke into the air as I looked up to the sky.  Damnit, Hush – I said to myself – what are you up to now?

Strange Fruit in the Concrete Jungle

Hello,
I hope you all have been enjoying the short stories that I have been posting.  I started out doing them once a week, but as my Ghostwriting career took off, I began to find it more difficult to continue writing weekly stories in addition to the other contracts that I picked up.  However, another project that has taken up a lot of my time is my upcoming novel, “Strange Fruit in the Concrete Jungle.”  Oh, you didn’t know that I was writing a novel?  Well, let me fill you in on the plot!
Ehhis is young man who moves from a small, racist town in Idlewild, Texas to Harlem, NY in 1921. He has aspirations of presenting an unheard of form of art to the citizens of Harlem, Spoken-Word. But his dreams of becoming an entertainer are quickly interrupted when he witnesses a murder within the first few months of his move to Harlem.  Against the advice of one of his good friends, he speaks to the police and is prepared to testify in court.  If he testifies against the killer, it will expose a string of corrupt cops and city officials and their ties to a viscous, black crime mob terrorizing Harlem. The powers that be are not prepared to let that happen so they seek to handle it the best way they can; eliminate Ehhis.  Not knowing who to trust and where to go, Ehhis becomes a target of one of the most dangerous crime families in Harlem as he stubbornly continues pursuing his dreams as an entertainer. In a narrative that captures the essence of 1920’s Harlem with breathtaking descriptions and painstaking imagery of the Renaissance, it will make you feel as if you are right there with the characters. Journey with Ehhis through his triumphs and downfalls in this epic story of ambition and determination. It will leave you speechless and inspire you to always keep going, no matter what is ahead of you.
Check out the trailer below!
This is the website where you can get additional information on the novel.
There are a couple of snippets of the book inside of this blog and if you want to check them out, just look for the book the cover when you scroll through my blog posts.  I have enjoyed every moment of this process, from starting out in three notebooks (Yes, I wrote the ENTIRE first draft of the novel by hand and it is over 111k words), transferring it to the computer, creating in-depth characters and studying the time period so I would be sure to have everything close to how it really was in the 1920’s.  I have even written a movie script to go along with the novel!  I have put a lot of time and effort into this project and I am thoroughly excited about its release!  I am currently on my third edit of the book and it is going well, but I am reaching the point that I realize I cannot do it all on my own.
NOW THIS IS WHERE YOU ALL COME IN!
I appreciate all of your support, “likes”, and comments so please take a minute and check out the Kickstarter page for my upcoming novel, “Strange Fruit in the Concrete Jungle.” My backers receive an array of packages, ranging from physical signed copies of the novel and Special Edition E-Book bundles, to your name being placed in the books acknowledgements!
Check out the page and see what is going on with this ground-breaking novel that captures the essence of the renaissance! Thank you in advance! Peace.

See No Evil

The sun beamed down on them as they sat outside on the outskirts of a park in New York City.  It was the place that people came to find good chess competition.  He emptied the pieces out of his brown paper bag as they slid onto the table and banged into one another.  He set each piece up carefully, first the King and Queen, then the Bishops, the Knights, the Rooks and finally the Pawns.  When he placed the clock on the side of the table, she walked up to him and took a seat.  He looked at her with a haughty smirk as she glared down at the chessboard.

She wore jeans and a black, sleeveless shirt with a small bag strapped over her shoulder.  Her smile was alluring and had been the downfall of many men before her.  Her lips were full like moons at the winter solstice.  Her eyes were barely visible behind her dark shades while her brown skin was as smooth as soft, chocolate ice cream.  The man shook his head, “Are you lost, little lady?”  She didn’t pay attention to his sarcasm as she nodded to the clock, “Whenever you’re ready.”

He was a shark, one of the best players that this park had seen in quite some time, but she was by no means intimidated by his reputation.  She enjoyed the strategy of the game just as much as anybody else.  The way everything is set up to attack the king slowly or quickly with tactical means.  She went in for the kill if it was there every time.  She hardly ever waited because patience wasn’t her strong suit.  If she had to, she would wait for the kill but for the most part, she wanted to pounce as soon as her opponent made his mistake. This was her life but to him, it was just a game, and that is where he made the mistake.

“You first, Madame.”

He extended his hand and with that, she picked up her first piece and slapped the clock.  Pawn, E4.  Pawn, D4.  Pawn, C3.  She was playing a gambit, and he fell right into it.  Moments later, his fallacious smirk slowly began to fade as she pushed him into taking pieces so that she could get into a better attacking position.  A small crowd started to gather as he looked at her.  She folded her arms just under her chest as her breasts sat perfectly on top of her forearms.  She was built like a model, and every man knew it.  Most times, they were caught off guard when she showed what she could do, and that’s what she loved the most.

“Being underestimated is a position that I’d prefer to be in.  The more your victim underestimates you, the more options you have to kill them.”

Words she lived by.  During each of his moves, she shifted her head slightly to the right, picking up on every sound the piece made when it came in contact with the board.  She was a student of the game.  When she was younger, her father blindfolded her and made her play games against him.

“Focus on the sound of the board.  You have to learn how to see your opponent’s moves before they do.  You have to see the whole board in your mind before you can take apart your adversary.  Always remain two steps ahead of them.”

It wasn’t the same since he passed away and even thought she was responsible for it, she had good reason to do it.  Things changed a lot as she grew up in her parent’s home and that was one of the things she had to deal with.  She had to deal with his death on her terms and most of the times; they came in the form of nightmares.

She tapped her finger across the surface of the table as his clock ticked further and further down.  He simultaneously looked between her and the board as his hands started to shake and people around began to gasp at the fact that he was on the verge of being dismantled by this attractive young woman.  She wasn’t from around here.  She was too quiet to be a New Yorker.  Too reserved.  Too calm.  Her accent wasn’t gritty.  He makes his move, and she smiles.  She could have ended the game, but she wanted him to suffer.  She enjoyed it.  She moved her Bishop down and took his Queen and with that move, you could feel the torment shooting from his soul.  He flipped his King over onto the board as the people around stood with their mouths open.

It wasn’t completely because he had lost because, even with his skill, he has seen defeat a few times before in that very park.  What caused everyone to remain with looks of unbelief plastered onto their faces were her eyes.  The coolness of the gray that covered her iris’s when she removed her glasses.  The way she looked at her opponent with eyes full of nothing and winked at him as if she could see everything in front of her.  It was the same look she had given the men before she ended their lives.  Her beautiful smile was where they underestimated her.  The perfect shape of her lips coated with black lipstick, the complexion that wrapped around her body flawlessly.  The beauty mark that sat right in the middle of her cheek and made a small trail to the edge of her eyes.  Two long french braids hung down from both sides of her head.  Her pulchritude was uncanny, and it hid who she was.  Moments later, she got up and walked away from the table, parting the crowd with each step like the red sea.  She was dangerous.  Much more dangerous than anything that chess table had ever seen.

 

Chapter 1

 

“Hey Dad, how are you?”

“I’m good, sweetheart.  Here, have a seat.  Your mother just finished up with breakfast.”

He slid his plate of bacon, eggs, and pancakes in front of her as she sat down at the table.

“No, Dad.  I don’t want to take your plate.”

“You don’t have a choice.”

He smiled and got up from the table to fix two more plates.  He was that kind of guy.  A loving father who was willing to sacrifice his things just to make sure his two women were ok.  Jade Bowen was the only child of two well-off parents.  Her Father was a defense attorney, and her mother made her living as a surgeon.  There wasn’t much that the family couldn’t get if they wanted it, but they did their best not to spoil Jade, and so far, they did well.  She was seventeen and just a few months away from graduating High School and had aspirations of going off to College to major in pharmaceuticals and follow the path of her mother.  She was fascinated with repairing wounds and sewing up deep wounds were guilty pleasures for her.  The blood didn’t make her queasy the way it did her father.  She had a strong stomach, and her mother was the same way.  Her parents were pleased because they wanted her to understand that she should have to work for everything she got, just as they did.

Moments later, her mother came down the stairs.  She was a more mature version of her mother.  Her body filled out in a way that her daughter patiently waited for.  “If that is my mom,” she thought to herself, “Then I know my body will be here sooner or later.”  She walked into the kitchen with her house robe on and tied it once she got to the table.

“Oh, well thank you for fixing our plates, Jade.”

Her father turned around as he pulled juice from the refrigerator, “Oh, so Jade just automatically gets my credit?” he said as he placed the juice on the table.  Her mother laughed, “I knew you were going to throw a hissy fit!  I was just playing; I knew that you made it.  Jade’s lazy behind just got up!”  She leaned over and kissed her daughter on the cheek, then walked to her husband and put her arms around him as she pushed her lips against his.  They had been married for thirteen years, and most people would say that was an unlucky number.  The Bowen’s didn’t believe in luck or anything like that, but that thirteenth year of marriage is when things started to become unhinged for them.

On the subway, she took a seat right next to an older white man. She folded her hands across her legs as the train glided across the tracks.  The lights flashed into the car every few seconds as she took a book out of her purse and ran her fingers across the small dots on the pages.  The older black man with silver hair looked down at her book, then towards her.  As she turned a page, she spoke, “The Invisible Man.  I love this book.  Have you read it?”  The older man adjusted his glasses, “I have.  I have read it, indeed.”  He paused for a few moments, “Have you ever wanted to become invisible?”  Suddenly, she remembered that same thirteenth year of marriage, and it was at that moment that she wished she was invisible.

Her father lost his job because he lost a case that he was forced to take.  His confidence was sky high at the time, and he hadn’t seen a loss in the courtroom in a few years, but even he wasn’t sure that he could get a man off for a double murder.  It was the governor’s son, and the case was as highly profiled as it could get, and when the jury came back with the verdict, it was like a pillowcase of bricks collided into his chest.  From that point, he was let go of the firm and blackballed in the state.  He couldn’t find another job as a lawyer if he sold his first born and the thought crossed his mind more than a few times.  He was unraveling before his family’s eyes, and as the time passed, he picked up a bottle more than he did a phone to search for jobs.  Jade’s mother, Allison, was become weary by the day, but she did her best to hold it together even though things were becoming tight on them.  They had tapped out of all of their savings and started dipping into Jade’s college fund.

She fixed dinner on her day off as Maurice stumbled into the kitchen.  She sighed when he walked up to her and put his arms around her waist.  “Maurice, not now.  I’m tryin’ to get dinner done.”  He kept trying to kiss her until she sucked her teeth and spoke with more attitude, “Maurice!  I said not now!”  He stumbled as he took a few steps away from her.  His speech was slurred, “What… what are you talkin’ about not now?  You’re… you’re MY wife and I can… I can do whatever I please to you.  Now, come here and let me get a kiss.”  He walked over to her again, but this time, she lifted her elbow and pushed it into his chest, “I said not now, Maurice!  I need to finish cooking!”

It may have been the stress that built up over the past seven months of unemployment, but now, the look in his eyes was much different than it was before.  The man that was full of love had become bitter.  Angry.  Resentful.  He bottled it all inside of him when he should’ve released it because now, it had the propensity to come out at the wrong moment.  He had an unbridled sea of emotions swirling around inside of him that was just waiting to be released.  He hadn’t been able to control them and for the most part, he had become a wild card.

“What did you just say?”

“I told you, I need to-”

She couldn’t finish her sentence before she felt a hand as cold as winter cement across her face.  She fell backward into the stove and burned her hand on one of the eyes as she braced herself.

“You… you don’t talk back to me.”

He said as every word left his tongue as if it weighed one hundred pounds.  He lifted his hand and sent it crashing down into her face again but this time, she shoved him back into the table and knocked the dinner plates onto the ground.  Just then, Jade ran into the kitchen in the midst of the commotion and saw her mother bleeding from her lip, and her father tumbled onto the ground next to the shattered glass.

“Mama!”

She ran to her aid as her father struggled to get back to his feet.

“I’ll teac… I’ll teach you to put your hands on me again.”

“Daddy, no!”

When he got to his feet, he charged forward again, but they both moved out of the way.  They had been through this before, though.  This wasn’t the first time he had put his hands on her.  It had nearly become a weekly occurrence for the past two months, and Jade was tired of it.  She was tired of seeing her mom hurt, and her mother was tired of making up excuses for the cuts and bruises she had all over her body.  Only one person can have so much misfortune happen to them at once, and things had become difficult to explain away.  He walked over to Jada, “Mo.. move out of the way, Jada.  This is between me an… me and yo’ mama.”

Jada knew what was coming.  Ever since she knew she wasn’t going to be able to go to College, she wanted to go to the army instead.  She felt she would be able to make the most money in the quickest way to help her mother as much as she could.  She took courses on how to handle guns and enrolled herself in multiple self-defense classes to help her hone in on her hand to hand combat.  She stepped in-between her mom and dad to help protect her mother as the rage built behind his glare.  He took his hand and thrust it into her chest.  She fell into the stove and smacked her head forcefully into the corner of it.  Jada grabbed her head as she started to lose consciousness and her mother rushed over to her.  Maurice grabbed Allison by the hair and threw her backward into the wall and slowly started walking to her with a staggered limp as if he was a zombie.

With the little strength she had, Jada pulled herself up and grabbed a knife from the drawer.  Maurice lifted his hand and sent it crashing down into Allison over and over, “This is th… this is the last time I’ma… I’ma tell you about talkin’… talkin’ back to me!” Pow!  He sent another hand down onto her cheek, and suddenly, he stopped and looked at his stomach to see the tip of a long steak knife sticking out of it.  Soon after that, blood began to trickle down his mouth as Allison looked up in horror.  Maurice gasped for air as more blood fell from his mouth and he dropped to his knees.  The very last thing Jada saw was her father on her back, choking on his blood.  Moments later, she passed out.

Back on the train, she turned slightly towards the older white man, “Once.  One time.  But I have no regrets.”  She quickly turned towards her book and continued reading as the train came to a stop.  The older man got up and got off as she closed her book and trailed him like a shadow.  He didn’t suspect a thing, and that’s how she saw it in her head before it happened.  She studied him.  She knew he was a fan of Ralph Waldo Emerson and flashing the book in front of him would force him to speak to her so she could get the tone of his voice.  She didn’t plan on needing it, but she was told to always see the whole board before she made her move.  Cover every angle.  She could tell you his age, height, and complexion and she hadn’t laid an eye on him.  She was good at what she did, and that’s why she was on.  She was a ghost.

He headed up the elevator to his office building and went into his corner room.  When he took his suit jacket off and hung it on the rack, he walked to the window that overlooked downtown.  He put his hands behind his back as his gray hairs reflected the sunlight that beamed down onto him.  He cleared his throat, “I didn’t think you would be coming this soon.” He fixed his glasses as his reflection in the glass window shined back at him and seemingly out of nowhere, Jade emerged.  “But you knew I would be coming.”  He laughed, “Yes.  Yes, I did.  However, I did not suspect that you would have been on the train with me.”  She walked closer to his desk as he continued standing with his hands behind back.  He was wealthy himself, the owner of the largest grocery chain in the world.  However, his desire to stay connected to the common people was astounding.  He rode the train, the subway, and the city bus at least once a week so he wouldn’t become so haughty and high-minded.  It worked as good as anything else could have as his workers, even starting, were paid two dollars above minimum wage and qualified for healthy benefits only after three months of employment.  He was one of the good guys, but the industry saw him as a bad apple.  He wasn’t falling in line with what the rest of the men in his position did and therefore, he knew the end was coming.  He knew that not falling in line with the status quo and succumbing to the powers that be; there would be a stiff penalty.  He was prepared, though.

She reached into her bag and placed two items on his desk; a poison that he could ingest and send him away quietly or a double-edged blade that would sever his head from his body with little to no force applied.  Her escape was already planned.  She walked his office many times on his lunch breaks without him noticing that she had been there.  He was positioned on the fifteenth floor, but she scoped out an exit through the ventilation system that led right outside.  She would grapple down the building and come down through the sunroof of a car driven by another member of the agency, and they would be gone before anybody could blink twice.  They were professionals.

“Jade, is that what you want to do?”

He spoke, not once turning towards her.  It was slightly jarring that he said her name. However, she wasn’t deterred.  She wasn’t going to dive off into unnecessary conversations.  She was there to do a job, and that was it.

“This is business, Albert.  Nothing personal.  I have two options for you; quick and easy or slightly painful.”

The sun beamed down on him as he squinted his eyes and remained in his position, “You know, I pride myself on the things that I do for my employees.  I respect them and in turn, they are willing to work for me and help keep my business afloat.  I understand that-” she interrupted him, “Albert, please.”  He slowly turned towards her with a smile on his face and his stomach round and plumped like a globe was stuffed in his shirt.  His dark skin enveloped his body as if he was dipped in a dark, oily river as he looked at the options in front of him.  He picked up the small bottle and opened the lid, “Temazepam,” he said as he spread the pills on the table.  Jade stood in front of him with the blade in her hand, a silenced 9-millimeter pistol in the other.  He looked at her and smiled, “Ah, three choices now, huh?”  He didn’t seem to be worried, not even in the slightest fashion.  Death is something that he was prepared for ever since he took his stance.  His will was prepared, and all of his businesses were in order.  He picked up a few pills and walked over to his water dispenser, “Would you like a drink?”  She stood there silently, her dark shades facing in his direction.  “Just being hospitable,” he said as he pressed the release button for the water.  It splashed into his paper cup, and he nearly filled it to the brim, then walked back to his desk and took a seat.  Her head moved with each step he took until he was perched in his chair.  She tightened her finger on the trigger as Albert tested her patience.  He looked up to her, “I’ll be sure to tell Allison hello for you when I get there.”  Suddenly, she paused, and the chances of that happening when she was in the midst of a job were unheard of, but right now, she was frozen.

“Baby, I’m alright.  I just need a little more time to recover.”

The machine in the hospital beeped right next to her bed as Jade stood by her mom, stroking her hand delicately to calm her anxiety.  Even though she told her she was fine, Jade knew the truth.  She could feel emotions better than most people could read faces.  Her senses seemed to enhance weeks after she lost her vision.  “I’m here, Mama.  I’m not going anywhere.”  Five years after Allison’s husband was killed, she was diagnosed with malignant cancer that was rapidly eating away at her insides.  The doctors said that she didn’t have many more days to live, however, the time she spent in the hospital was as pleasant as anyone’s last days could be.  She was bombarded with flowers and balloons almost on a daily basis just to show that she was appreciated.  Albert had grown quite fond of her in the past few years.  Although she wasn’t making herself available by any means, he still pursued her and, in fact, he was seeking to make her his bride.  Jade knew all of this, but business is business.

She stood in front of him as he took a deep breath and leaned his head back with the pills in the palm of his hand.  Suddenly, he stopped and tilted his head forward as he put the cup of water back on the table.  “You know what,” he said, “You’re going to have to-” and before he could finish, she sent a shot from her silenced pistol that went through his forehead and out of the glass behind him.  She was through the ventilation system before his body hit the ground.

Shook

         The smoke was just beginning to clear.  The buildings were demolished and the once plentiful city they lived in was on the verge of becoming an abandoned wasteland.  People walked around aimlessly, covered in debris still trying to piece together what just happened.  Cars were flipped upside down and metal street signs were bent at the base.  Slabs of concrete were missing from the streets as dead bodies littered patches of land.  In the middle of it all, he stood.  His ears were still ringing from the explosion as he looked around in complete shock.  He breathed heavily, attempting to bring his mind back to the present state the world was currently in.  People ran in every direction, some with their bodies covered in blood while others were maimed in some sort of way, yet, still able to limp their way along.  Smaller explosions were still going off in the distance as he stood in the middle of a once congested busy street, observing his surroundings in a panoramic view.  Another explosion went off 100 feet away from him causing him to flinch.  That’s when she ran up to him and the ringing in his ears were replaced with her words, “come on!  We have to move!  Now!”  Still disoriented, he reached his hand out to hers unconsciously as she pulled him along with her.  She wasn’t a big woman, 5’8 165 pounds but she was still able to pull a willing body along with her.  They ran hand in hand past the screams of people who were in agony and too injured to run for themselves.  He looked at them as they ran past, wanting to help but not able get his body and mind on the same page.  “Pleeease don’t leave me here!” they yelled as the two maneuvered through the rubble.  “Come on, keep up” she said, “We can’t save them. We have to keep moving.”  He slowly became more cognizant of the chaos going on around him, picking up his speed and alertness.  “This way” she said as another explosion went off to their right, “through these doors.”  They turned off the street and headed into a building that somehow was unaffected by the blasts going on around them.  They ran inside and headed to the back.  A few people were already inside the building, ducked down behind some of the overturned desks as if that was enough to shield them from the oncoming danger.  They stood behind a door inside a small office, both bent over with their hands on their knees to catch their breath.  “I haven’t run that much since I was in College” she said.  He looked at her quizzically.  She was unfamiliar to him but he was grateful that she grabbed his hand and led him out of harm’s way.  “Thank you” he said as she finally stood up and began searching through the office for anything of use.  “Don’t mention it” she said, as she frantically opened and closed drawers and cabinets.  “Now, I know there was some type of” she felt around the walls and removed a picture frame, exposing a safe, “yes, yes!  I knew it!”  She threw the picture frame on the ground shattering the glass that held it in place.  She entered the code as he observed her actions in silence.  In her hand there were two 9 millimeter pistols.  She looked at the man, “can I trust you?” she asked solemnly.  He was puzzled, “I’ve… I’ve never even held a gun before.”  She smiled and sat the two pistols on the table.  Moments later, she pulled two more weapons out of the safe and sat them on the desk next to the other two pistols.  There was enough ammo to last them a few rounds.  “I guess I should at least introduce myself to you” she said.  Her British accent was strong.  Her brunette hair was pulled back into a ponytail and it would have appeared that she would not have fit a role such as this.  She was a pretty woman.  Dark shades covered her eyes and added even more mystery to her.  The tips of her fingers were freshly manicured.  He was caught in suspense as he admired her beauty.  Her voice brought him back into reality, “are you just going to ignore me?”  His eyes widened, “I’m… I’m sorry, I was just” she interrupted him, “you were just going to watch me show you how to fire these weapons.”  Now, he looked the part but he could not quite fill the role.  Tall with broad shoulders and a dark skinned complexion.  He resembled the frames of pro athletes and was often times confused with them but he was quite the opposite.  He was not a manly type of man and he would most likely be at a bookstore rather than a gym.  Two more explosions went off just outside of the building, rattling the ceiling above them and causing dust from the cement to fall.  “Now” she said firmly, “you want to hold the pistol in your arms like this.  Keep them straight and firm and then aim.  Line the middle of the barrel up with whatever you are shooting at and then fire.  It’s a crash course, so pay attention.”  She handed him the pistol as he was afraid to take it.  “Come on” she insisted, “now is not the time to be afraid.  We ran through hell to get to this point and it’s clear that we were supposed to.”  She took one of the pistols and placed them inside her pants.  He mirrored her actions attempting to carry his the same way.  “Now this one” she said, “put the base of this one here right into your bicep.  It has a little kick to it so you want to make sure it’s against a strong part of your body.  Pull the trigger and let the bullets go.  It’s an automatic so just keep your hand on the trigger until your target is dead.”  She threw the strap of the gun around her shoulder and let it hang.  She handed the other AK to him, “wait wait wait” he said, “hold on.  Now, what the hell is this!? What in the world is going on?  Literally.  I don’t know you at all then all of a sudden you grab me and pull me to this office handing me guns.  Its explosions going on all around us.  People are screaming.  I mean, what is this!?”  She looked at him confused. “Do you honestly not know what’s going on?  We are under attack right now” she said emphatically, “Yeah, I guess I could’ve left you out there for you to get fried by whatever is coming out the skies but I thought to myself, ‘here is an able-bodied man here, you know, somebody that can help’ so I pulled you along.”  He plopped down in the chair, “so you mean to tell me… it happened?  It really happened?” he said it complete disbelief. 

He was one of the skeptical ones.  He went back to a time before all this happened, replaying it in his mind, “Wait, so you honestly expect me to believe that there are aliens?  And not only that but in their essence, they are really demons?  Seriously?”  His coworker looked back at him solemnly, “absolutely.”  He mocked her incredulously with laughter, “Wow.  Ok, Brittney.  Well, when you come back to the real world, I will show you how Santa Clause, Jesus and God are all just make believe stories that really should be put to bed by your 6th or 7th birthday.  The whole premise of ‘God’ is just ridiculous and then to add to that, you expect me to sit here and listen to you ramble on about ‘Jesus’, some man who is going to ‘float down from the sky on a cloud’ and save a bunch of people and leave the rest to suffer tribulation?”  He picked up his cup of coffee meticulously and shook his head, “you know what Brittney” he said, “I had such high regards for you until now.  Now that I see you still believe in fairy tales and sky daddies.  It just baffles me that a woman as attractive as you are can succumb to such foolishness.”  He ended the conversation with an aura of haughtiness that left the room with a poignant stench. 

   “What really happened?” she said as she loaded a clip into her pistol.  He recollected walking to Britney’s office a few moments after the first explosion and finding nothing but the clothing she wore that day.  He searched around the office more looking for some more coworkers who believed just like Britney but it was the same sight; a pile of clothing with no bodies in sight.  The woman in the office with him became impatient, “look, we don’t have time for you to daydream.  We gotta’ move.  I don’t know what’s going on but I was prepared for it.”  He snapped out of it, “You said something was coming out of the sky?”  She placed the pistol back into her pants and quietly opened the door, “yes” she said, “it was like… a bright light or something of that nature.  People were just vanishing all around me so I figured it had something to do with that thing that was in the sky.  I assume it was just zapping people or something like that.”  She tiptoed out of the room and back into the lobby they ran through.  They hadn’t heard an explosion in the last few minutes so she figured now was the best time to move.  He got up and quickly caught up with her.  The people that hid behind the overturned desks were either gone or dead.  Their bodies laid there freshly covered in blood.  The man turned his head away from the grotesque scene as she moved through it as if it wasn’t there.  They got to the front of the building.  She peeked up at the sky.  It was just as blue as the ocean water she travelled across to get to America.  After the coast was clear she motioned for him to follow her.  He put his pistol in his hand and began walking.  The agonizing screams of men and women trapped inside of wrecked cars could be heard as soon as they stepped outside.  They walked through blocks of a downtown rubble, searching for anybody else who was healthy enough to trek with them.  He walked past a man who laid trapped under a car and coughing up blood.  “Pl..please” he said faintly, “Just kill me.”  With a tear in his eye he allowed his calloused heart to soften.  He pulled the trigger.  “Pow!”  The gunshot echoed off of damaged buildings around them.  She grabbed him by the front of his shirt after he fired the shot.  She was feisty.  Somebody who seemed to have been ready for a time like this since day one.  “Do NOT waste bullets!  They have to die when that time comes!  Firing bullets does nothing but draw more attention to us!  We don’t know what kind of people are out here or what is going on! Don’t be stupid!” she said, pushing him back as she let him go.  She still stood and listened for anything that would indicate commotion coming towards them.  There were three more gunshots that went off in the distance.  She shook her head, “we are not down here alone” she said as she continued walking down the block.  A few buildings down, a car was crashed through the window of a small convenience mart.  She led the way inside and began grabbing the essentials.  Water, bandages, first-aid and nonperishable food items.  He walked over towards her with his hands full of candy and soda.  She smacked it all out of his hands, “do you want to live, or die?  Because you’re behaving as if you want to die.”  He looked down at the candy that was smacked from his hand, “well, excuse me!” he snapped, “I’ve never been in an apocalyptic type of event before!”  Moments later they heard people walk into the convenience mart, stepping on glass and everything else that was on the ground beneath them.  She held a finger over her lips and ducked down behind one of the aisles.  She told him to stay put as she walked around the store with superior agility.  He sat down in the back, clinching the pistol in his hand with his finger around the trigger.  Radio communication went off, “I repeat, if anybody is alive, exterminate them with extreme precedence.  We don’t know who is and who is not infected.”  The radio communication cut off immediately after those words rang throughout the store.  He sat down in the back, his hands shaking the pistol uncontrollably.  Sweat beads formed and dripped down his head relentlessly as he looked up to his right.  He was right below the oval mirror in the back that showed the whole store in a glance.  As soon as he noticed what he sat under, one of the men who entered the store glanced up at the same mirror.  “We got one in the back” he said swiftly as he headed towards the back.  The man’s eyes widened as he aimed the pistol in the direction the other two men were coming from.  Suddenly, there was a gargling noise.  A bone chilling sound of choking on your own blood.  Seconds later, a similar nose followed.  “28, are you ok?” the radio sounded off.  There was no response, “28, speak, are you alright?”  Silence.  The woman appeared, wiping blood from her blade with a rag and then tossing it to the ground.  “We have to save bullets” she said, “only fire when absolutely necessary.” Her bravado was uncanny as he sat on the ground, stock-still from what just happened.  She took the radio off the slain soldier and hooked it onto her belt.  The man stood up, towering over her and glancing over at the soldiers as they lay twitching in their own blood.  “Who are you?” he said in a terrorized voice.  She smiled, pulled her hair tighter in a ponytail and put her items in a small book bag that was in the store.  “Let’s just say, I’m your second chance” she said as her shades remained positioned on her face.  She began walking out of the building but he spoke up in a nervous voice, “wait” he said, “can I at least get a good look at who I will be with?  I mean, I don’t even know your name.”  She stopped in her tracks and turned around.  She hung her head as if she was contemplating revealing herself completely to him.  Who knew how he would react once she did.  She knew of his background in regards to spiritual matters and he may turn away from her and make her job much more difficult, but reluctantly, she gave him what he desired.  “My name is Johanna” she said calmly as she removed her glasses.  His eyes bucked open as she stared back at him.  She was intensely focused on the man who stood in front of her and at the same time, she saw nothing at all.  Eyes full of everything left in the world, yet, as empty as the heart in front of him.  “How?” he said in utter disbelief.  “I walk by faith and not by sight” she said confidently after repositioned her glasses back on.  “Now” she said, “let’s get moving.  Day is gone.”